Friday, December 9, 2011

Spatial Tension

Don't ask me why it's spelled "spatial" with a "t" when it refers to "space" with a "c", it's just the English language and that's the way it is. The classic source of the concept of spatial tension is lettering, the dot above the "i". Layout and design artists have used spatial tension in all sorts of ways. Trying to explain just how and why it works may be impossible. It may work because it sets up physical anticipations reflected in the real world, such as the diver in air, the basketball leap, basic expectations of gravity and completed actions, but it may work because of how our eyes scan things and how our minds work. If the scale is just right the distribution of shapes keeps us from seeing a gestalt all at once. It may tease our abilities at composing a gestalt or it may tease our abilities at peripheral vision. Whatever the explanation, spatial tension is a grand compositional tour de force.

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