August 6, 2008

Escape from Flatscape

Escape Flatscape


Flat space | Flat.scape

1. (Bot.) A peduncle rising from the ground or from a subterranean stem, as in the stemless violets, the bloodroot, and the like.
2. (Zoöl.) The long basal joint of the antennæ of an insect.
3. (Arch.) (a) The shaft of a column. (b) The apophyge of a shaft.
v. t. & i.
[imp. & p. p. SCAPED ; p. pr. & vb. n. SCAPING.]
[Aphetic form of escape.]
To escape. [Obs. or Poetic.] Milton.
Out of this prison help that we may scape.

As an architect, designer and a photographer, I am sick and tired of flatness… and flat space, both, literal and phenomenal … metaphorical. Architecture has it easy: it deals with depth and by default has spatial attributes it cannot escape. But in spite of that, it can still be flat… not merely compositionally, but also in terms of its capacity to create depth that is not simply dimensional. In any case, here I want to discuss more about the Flatscape in design and photography…. In a given space of a page, a paper, a poster, which is pure white space that graphic elements or light are to invade, draw upon, paint or illuminate… The elements and tools with which to do that is clear but the methods are varied… constructed graphics as opposed to applied graphics along with typological interventions or typographical, textual definitions are much more interesting than mere arrangements, compositions, geometries of images interspersed with texts or type. The former approach defines Emotional Space rather than pure given white space one starts with. It is this emotive and ephemeral space that also allows for ‘slowness’ that is of interest to me as an integral part of aspect of design process(es) that targets to grab, allow it to linger and engage peoples’ attention…..

I find Photography’s pretentiousness about depth arrogant and overbearing. It dematerializes depth into a Flatscape by virtue of its two-dimensionality – by investing light into a surface it brings to life a representation rather than reality itself. This is fascinating but erroneous, making the viewer traverse back in space (and time) to unfold the image being viewed; reversing it into am imagined reality (a kind of reversal of perception/process). Even this is fascinating. So, what am so bothered about? I think we need to celebrate Flatness in photography and flatten it even more. When I started doing photography, I mainly did architecture but have now moved into other things including portraits, people, objects and am focusing a more on the ‘graphic’ quality of light, space and flatness of forms.

With the advent of web design, interactivity and interface design, graphic design now is in a position to escape the flatness that has imprisoned it for the longest time….

Image 1: ‘Liberation’ by M. C. Escher; Image 2: Unknown; Image 3: Drawings Hands by M. C. Escher
1 phenomenal
Composed of or relating to things that occupy space and can be perceived by the senses: concrete, corporeal, material, objective, physical, sensible, substantial, tangible. See body/spirit, matter.
Philosophy. In the philosophy of Kant, an object as it is perceived by the senses, as opposed to a noumenon.


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