Tag Archives: 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.”


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



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