Playing with Figure/Ground Reversals and Repetition

Project 4: Figure/Ground Reversal

Project 4: Figure/Ground Reversal

Last night, my third design project was due, and it was a shape exercise where we played with a figure/ground reversal, which we then had to pattern.

We had to create a single panel with an axis of symmetry (mine goes horizontally), and on each side of the axis, the white and black areas were reversed, creating a composition with equal amounts of white and black space. We then had to repeat that image on a grid, getting smaller and smaller, by half each time, until we created a dizzying 8×8 grid.

I really struggled in choosing a concept for this piece. The assignment was so straightforward, and I created about 20 different trials, many of which I tried patterning, but I had a lot of trouble settling on just one. In some, the initial design looked too abstracted, in others, the patterned versions were too blocky or stripy or just didn’t quite look good. I finally settled on this one, which I felt was balanced, interesting and not overly complicated.

It was interesting to see how the movement of the design changed as the tiles got smaller and to see the strange sorts of optical illusions that occurred. When the design is tiled, it creates some new shapes that start pulling your gaze in different directions, but then when it gets tiled more at a smaller scale, it becomes much flatter and less active, looking quite even and flat.

In class we didn’t do a group critique — we discussed our projects at our desks with the instructor — but I could still see many students’ versions. Some people did some incredibly fanciful and complex designs, with swirling shapes, or ones that looked almost like chandeliers. Other students stuck more with flame or rose-like designs, and yet others did straight-lined square designs.

We also got to do the project digitally if we wanted, and the image above isn’t a photo of my presentation board (if only I could take a photo that accurate!) but a digital composite.

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