This week I finished reading Point and Line to Plane by Wassily Kandinsky. Though it’s a confusing read at times, he has many interesting ideas about how the elements of abstract art interact with the world to express and create emotion.
Last week I gave his great example of the point as silence. Moving the point from its logical, practical position reveals its inner tensions:
Today I am going to the movies.
Today I am going. To the movies
Today I. Am going to the movies
This week, I’m looking at how the point is forced from its position to become a line.
The Point and the Line
Here is how Kandinsky defines the line:
The geometric line is an invisible thing. It is the track made by the moving point; that is, its product. It is created by movement—specifically through the destruction of the intense self-contained repose of the point. Here, the leap out of the static into the dynamic occurs. The line is, therefore, the greatest antithesis to the pictorial protoelement—the point. Viewed in the strictest sense, it can be designated as a secondary element.
I really love this—the line being antithetical to the point, but also created by the movement and destruction of the repose of the point. Such a dramatic and complicated relationship. Then Kandinsky brings in another topic I love, “forces”:
There exists still another force which develops not within the point, but outside of it. This force hurls itself upon the point which is digging its way into the surface, tears it out and pushes it about the surface in one direction or another. The concentric tension of the point is thereby immediately destroyed and, as a result, it perishes and a new being arises out of it which leads a new, independent life in accordance with its own laws. This is the Line.
The forces coming from without which transform the point into a line, can be very diverse. The variation in lines depends upon the number of these forces and upon their combinations. In the final analysis, all line forms can be reduced to two cases: 1. application of one force and 2. application of two forces: a) single or repeated, alternate action of both forces, b) simultaneous action of both forces.
So an outside force tears a point out of a surface and pushes it in a certain direction which defines what kind of line it is. It’s the action-drama of line’s origin story. The point and its offspring-turned-adversary living together in constant tension. I had no idea point and line had such a difficult home-life.
Point and Line to Plane also has a wonderful discussion of the temperatures and sounds of different lines, and diagrams of the forces that act on the line. I highly recommend spending some time enjoying Kandinsky’s unique view on the elements of art.
Point, Line, and Code
The Meeting the Bar prompt at dVerse Poets Pub last Thursday was to create a poem with different kinds of wordplay. Though I didn’t write a poem, I created some visual poetry. Thinking about imagery to go with “wordplay” using points and lines, I thought of Morse Code.
Samuel Morse was an American artist. He worked with physicist Joseph Henry and mechanical engineer Alfred Vail to develop an electrical telegraph system to transmit language using electrical pulses and the silence between them. It began as graphic indentations on paper strips, but the telegraph operators learned the sound of the clicking noise of the receiver making the paper tape unnecessary. When Morse Code was adapted for radio communication these clicks became tone pulses.
What’s really fun about this idea is it connects visual patterns to words and sounds. Connecting to Kandinsky’s synesthesia in my own way.
I started my Morse Code wordplay with the word “WORD.” Interestingly each letter in WORD has three symbols. I created a filter with the Morse Code for WORD and played with it in my mirrorworld.
Then I played with the word “PLAY”:
The two images at the top of this post play with two different filters of my initials.
I’m not sure where I’ll take this idea, but it opens up a whole new area of visual poetry, visual communication, and is my first step toward exploring synesthesia in my images. I look forward to hearing what sonification programs do with these images.