‘Space is the breath of art’
To a humble wildlife photographer, ‘space’ is all about that important ‘degree of separation’ that can make or break an image.
A good picture needs to ‘breathe’. Or as the great architect Frank Lloyd Wright put it: ‘Space is the breath of art’.
Space gives the viewer a reference for interpreting an artwork – something that was brought home to me during a work trip to Shanghai a few years ago.
During an early morning stroll around the Chinese mega-city’s architecturally awe-inspiring financial district, I came upon these (pictured) ceramic heads by celebrated Japanese/US public art creator, Jun Kaneko.
Although at the time the heads were a little out of context when viewed against a backdrop of construction cloth, the ugly material did serve to emphasise the core message embodied in Kaneko’s work. SPACE!
The distance between the two heads was immediately comfortable to my eye, but I confess to not getting the intended message. I chose a more literal interpretation: that the work was all about ‘communication’ – perhaps commissioned by some global hi-tech giant, and that someone had stolen the headphones!
Importance of space
In fact, Kaneko’s boldly glazed 2009 ‘Heads’ examine the importance of space in the achievement of order.
“To shrink the distance between viewer and object by using a realistic form or head interests me greatly,” he says. “I started making heads as a pair because [they] give me the opportunity to create a different visual power and [set of] problems.
“The space between the two heads is an important element … and the adjustment of space is part of the piece … If one shape is just there by itself there is no order, but the minute I put the next shape there then it has a certain kind of order, and then a complicated thing begins to happen.”
So, there you go. Next time you get the camera out, try to give your subject a bit more space in which to breathe.