Concept: Figure/Ground: 4

Master Concepts List

Additional relationships



Related Concepts: Figure/Ground relationships

Figure/ground ambiguity - Figure/ground ambiguity exists when it is impossible to determine what would be considered figure and what would be considered ground. Common causes of figure/ground ambiguity are blurriness (gradients, camera blur, depth of field, smudging, etc.) or an immense quantity and complexity of figures. When it becomes difficult or impossible to determine when a figure stops and the ground begins, figure/ground ambiguity occurs. Note: this is distinctly different that figure/ground reversal (see below).

fig/ground ambiguity
Areas of figure/ground ambiguity... figures become indeterminate

fig/ground ambiguity
Almost entirely figure/ground ambiguous
(figure can be determined along the bottom edge of the image)

Fig/ground ambiguity
Jackson Pollock
Lavender Mist: Number 1
Oil, enamel, aluminum paint on canvas, 1950


Figure/ground reversal - Figure/ground reversal exists when a shape could be seen as either figure or ground. The most common cause of figure/ground reversal is similar size of figures.

fig/ground reversal
Classic Vase-Face figure/ground reversal

fig/ground revesal
fig/ground revesal
Figure/ground reversal as part of a logo


Repetition - The use of the same visual element (usually a shape) multiple times. Repetition does not by definition indicate that there is any organization of the repeated elements -- at one extreme, the elements could be seemingly random in position; at the other extreme, the elements could be arranged in a very strict grid.

Repetition
Repetition of elliptical shapes

Repetition
Repetition of organic shapes

Repetition
Paul Cezanne
Still Life with Compotier
1879-1882
Repetition of elliptical shapes with variations in size


Pattern - The use of the same visual element (usually a shape) multiple times in a systematic manner. Pattern is a form of repetition, but whereas repetition can be random or disorganized,pattern is organized.

Pattern
Pattern in a grid organization

Pattern
Andy Warhol
30 Are Better Than One, 1964
Silkscreen ink and paint on canvas
Pattern in a grid organization

Pattern
Complex pattern


Symmetry - Symmetry refers to visual elements mirrored to the other half of the surface (or form, in the case of 3-dimensional work). Symmetry requires an axis by which the mirroring occurs. This axis can be vertical (left-right mirroring), horizontal (top-bottom mirroring), or diagonal. Rotational symmetry refers to a variation in symmetry that allows for more than one mirroring of visual elements around a central point, rather than an axis. A kaleidoscope is an example of rotational symmetry.
Asymmetry - Asymmetry refers to an arrangement of visual elements that is not symmetrical.

Symmetry
Symmetry (vertical axis)

Symmetry
Symmetry in architecture: reconstruction of the Parthenon
(vetical axis)

Symmetry
Symmetry (diagonal axis)

Symmetry
Georgia O'Keeffe
Jack-in-the-Pulpit No. IV, 1930
Symmetry
(note: symmetry does not require completely identical mirroring)

Symmetry
Radial Symmetry (horizontal and veritcal axis)


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