Monthly Archives: September 2011

Flatland

I first encountered Flatland, an imaginary world of only two dimensions, in my eighth-grade math class. (Cool teacher, Mrs. Peek; we also watched a film on the geometry of the game of billiards.) I often think of Flatland when talking to students about design, drawing, and painting, which are, by nature, essentially flat. To design with two-dimensions entails a different way of thinking, a different way of seeing. The design space is a place where overlapping volumes don’t really go back in space. With that third dimension missing they become shapes that abut. They can still appear to go back in space. This contradiction between virtual appearance and actual fact is the fundamental tension and dynamic in two-dimensional art. The designer is one who can hold these two contradictory perceptions in mind at the same time and draw from them whatever is needed to make the design “work.”

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The original text of Flatland, by Edwin Abbott (1838-1926.)

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OWU Alumnus Glen Entis

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The Process of Design: The FedEx Logo Story

Logos are perhaps the most familiar and ubiquitous form of applied 2-D design. The best logos encode and convey the identity, purpose, and spirit of a company through an astute manipulation of visual forms and type. Here’s an interview with the designer of the award-winning FedEx logo, Lindon Leader, on the evolution of his design, from the blog,  The Sneeze.

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Linear Analysis / Abstraction of Master Works

These examples are borrowed from the text, “Design: The Search for Unity,” by Eugene Larkin, University of Minnesota. Beneath each master work is an example of a student’s analysis/interpretation.

The Peasant Dance, by Peter Brueghel the Elder.

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The Lamentation, by Alessandro Turchi.

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The Deposition, Santi di Tito Titi.

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Blindman’s Bluff, Max Beckmann.

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La Vie Conjugale, Roger de la Fresnaye.

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The Serious Work of Playing

As a young aspiring artist seeking to legitimize myself and my career path in the eyes of parents and other “adults,” I insisted that what I did was work! After all, the products of artistic creation are called art “work.” We typically dismiss the dilettante as one who merely plays at art instead of working seriously. As I’ve grown older, and wiser (perhaps), I’ve become more comfortable with the notion of art as a rarefied form of play. Society thinks of play as something adults should outgrow with childhood, but most animals, humans excepted, continue to play until the day they die. The problem is that the nature of play is misunderstood. There’s more to play than meets the eye it would seem.

In a segment titled Play, Spirit & Character, on National Public Radio’s program On Being, Krista Tippett interviews Stuart Brown, physician, founder and director of the National Institute for Play. NPR has this to say about the interview:

“Stuart Brown, a physician and director of the National Institute for Play, says that pleasurable, purposeless activity prevents violence and promotes trust, empathy, and adaptability to life’s complication. He promotes cutting-edge science on human play, and draws on a rich universe of study of intelligent social animals.”

The interview is an audio recording. Listen to it while you’re working (playing):  Play, Spirit & Character

Other links on play and creativity:

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