Notebook, 1993-


Assessment of Forces

. . . . Moreover, the eye seems to want to group elements of "good form" that is, shapes or figures that are symmetrical, completed, made of clean contours, and the like--the very opposite of what the art of comouflage tries to do to form.

One or more of the principles will be operative in these point-line studies, although they may not be immediately evident. The elements and coordinates of a design set up a system of tensions the moment they are placed in a field ["tension connects," Paul Klee said]. It could be said that we take advantage of perceptual factors, pointed out by Wertheimer, Arnheim, Gombrich, and others, by developing them consciously or unconsciously in the design. Some become powerful integrating forces. Working against these are the various counter-forces--wayward elements--that give life to many designs. We have to remind ourselves again and again, to place points and lines at both wide and narrow intervals, risk far-flung positions, like those observed in certain constellations. A single isolated point may take on extraordinary importance and balance off a large cluster of points lying some distance away from it. Inasmuch as these studies develop a keen eye for weights, tensions, groupings, and alignments, they should be repeated in as many ways as possible. Sooner or later, the student will discover the useful trick of unfocusing or "self-focusing" the eyes for a more comprehensive assessment of forces that have been set to work in the design.

[Harlan, Calvin. Vision & Invention, An Introduction to Art Fundamentals. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1986, pg. 32]



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