The space inside an organized mind

In other words, here’s another chapter from Graham Collier's Form, Space & Vision, published by Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, in 1963.

SPACE III:  the conscious organization of space

The intuitive is constantly at war with the rational in the visual arts.  [right brain vs. left brain]  The completely logical approach to art tends to inhibit feeling or attitude and spontaneity, which are vital to the creative process.

One way of handling space is to take a line into the air and ‘draw’ with it….yet wire, easily bent to produce a rhythmical cutting through space, did not demand of you any calculated decision concerning changes of direction; neither did you physically have to construct the line piece by piece when  change in direction was made.  Instead of drawing a line two-dimensionally on a flat surface, we are now going to take a line of wood strip into the air and ‘draw’ with it three-dimensionally in space…the line must move only at right angles to itself; every time it changes direction, the angle must be 90 degrees…It simplifies the actual making of the construction, since the wood strip, being square in section, glues together easily at a right-angle joint…it will make you concentrate on proportionate lengths and three-dimensional direction…a line moving in space creates volumes or compartments of space and that these volumes also have proportional relationships to each other and to the total construction.

The experiment:  balsa wood strip 4-5ft x 3/16” and any appropriate cement fixative.  Before the line of strip wood can ascend into the air and start its wanderings, there should first be a base to support the construction.  In making the base, leave it open (unconnected to its other members) at the point from which the vertical lines takes off into the air.  This will help the viewer establish the starting point.  On leaving the base at the appropriate point, the strip should now ascend vertically into the air at right angles to the base….now move the strip constantly in changing directions, once it is safely airborne.  Obviously, the strip will require constant support while the cement of the angle joints is hardening.  But while this is happening at one part of the construction, the next few moves of the line may be seen in advance and can be prefabricated, ready to attach to the part that is drying.  With every length of strip attached to the growing object, you will be forced into making decisions which involve both physical and visual balance, the compartmentalization of space, and the working out of directional and angular forces…briefly descried as the tensions created in the structure by a sudden change of direction.

At some point you should both think and feel that any further change of direction or further prolongation of the strip would merely confuse rather than clarify the form of the construction.  Stop at this point.  When completing the construction, make sure the strip line emerges into the open, so it can be seen clearly in relation to the starting point on the ground.

Conclusions:  the thrust of line against line creates tensions in the structure of which the viewer is aware; also of the resolution of these tensions through the equilibrium achieved by the construction.  The space compartments contained within this strip drawing are organically part of the design, and they grow out of the construction; the outside space becomes a part of the drawing by entering into the construction.  This interchangeability of space contained with space surrounding is an important factor, not only in the act of perceiving an object, but also in our aesthetic response to an object.


[the next lesson here.]

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