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Monday, December 17, 2012

The Third Space

In addition to Ma, Notan is another design principle to think about. Also a Japanese term, Notan refers to the interplay of dark and light. For artists it is something to bear in mind for composition and value. While considering the layout of a work, Notan is part of the decision to break up the space with interesting shapes, and to balance the darks and lights in a pleasing way - or a disturbing way, if that’s
what you’re after.

 

One way to check a composition is to reverse your image. The inverted values help in seeing in an abstract way if the shapes are interesting and if the darks and lights are balanced.

 
Metaphorically, Notan is a combination of presence and absence. The two, by nature of their dynamic opposition, create tension, and a mysterious, transcendent, ‘third space’ is evoked.

10 comments:

Kathryn Hansen said...

all these interesting names for design principles!! i highly believe in "notan" to make a piece striking and pleasing to the viewer! i've just always called it high contrast...but it's a bit more than just that.

Jean Spitzer said...

Your design works beautifully, both ways. Thanks.

Katherine Kean said...

Hi Kathryn, I know. Contrast is the start, with composition rolled into it.

Katherine Kean said...

Thanks Jean. Tree branches tend to form striking patterns all on their own.

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Katherine, I'm really enjoying learning about these principals. Your sketches are just lovely and illustrate them well.

Katherine Kean said...

Thanks Elizabeth!

We probably all have a sense of these ideas without knowing the name or the definition - I see these elements in everyone here's work.

For me, I think knowing them helps when I get to the self critical part of the art making process. And as much as I'd prefer to forget about it and charge ahead, the more planning I use in the beginning, the better the process goes, leaving more time to experiment later.

Margaret said...

Very interesting. I'm not a design person, but do enjoy reading about these things.

Katherine Kean said...

Thanks for coming by, Margaret.

I think the applications of Notan and Ma may be applied to many art forms, including music, writing, and theatre. In music for example, it works with the intervals and spaces between the notes, with the rhythm.

Palmer said...

I love it both ways! And the shapes ARE very interesting!

Katherine Kean said...

Thanks, Palmer! Glad you think so!