Depth Levels, Layers and Media

After doing some sketches for the line experiences, it’s time to ponder what material to use for my practice project. I plan to enhance the depth level of figure-ground situation with whatever media I use.

What is depth level? The figure-ground situation indeed is more complicated than we think of. If drawing a square on a piece of paper, the boundless area on the paper can be even considered as a ground for the square itself. In Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eyes, Rudolf Arnheim (1969, p. 235) suggests the theory of depth level. Using Han Arp’s woodcut (Fig. 1) as an example, Arnheim points out that the depth level of figure and ground can be designed into several planes of arrangements (Fig. 2). We could level up/down the layers of figure and ground in accordance with our purpose, planning and presentation, in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional forms.

Fig. 1. Hans Arp., illustration from Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye, 1969 (Berkeley CA: University of California Press)

Fig. 2, Rudolf Arnheim, illustration from Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye, 1969 (Berkeley CA: University of California Press)

The theory somehow gives me some ideas to expand the figure-ground situation into multiple layers. How so? The hierarchical relationship among God, human being, angel and devil (Fig. 3) basically can be categorized into three classes, in which it can be illustrated as three layers of planes (Fig. 4): first also the smallest layer represents human being, followed by angel and devil, finally the boundless ground symbolize God. The sizing and orders of the layers in fact symbolize their spiritual levels respectively, therefore the highest spiritual level it is the biggest plane it will get, and vice versa (Fig. 4). In term of material and media, I have three options in mind:

Fig. 3. Depth level, sketch on 29 Dec 2013

Fig. 4. Depth level, sketch on 29 Dec 2013

Option 1
Material: unconventional
Finishing: cutting on paper
Media: watercolor or digital media
After drawing the illustration by using either watercolor or digital media,  I will proceed the die-cut on the paper. The figure-ground situation is not only reflected through illustration itself, but also by the presentation of different layers of planes (Fig. 5 to Fig. 7). Artwork that I grabbed from Pinnterest (Fig. 8) shows the similar cutting finishing I intent to achieve.

Fig. 5. Depth level, sketch on 29 Dec 2013

Fig. 6. Depth level and its application, sketch on 29 Dec 2013

Fig. 7. Depth level and its application, sketch on 29 Dec 2013

Fig. 8. Eiko Ojala, Vertical Landscape, 2013. http://www.behance.net/eiko

Option 2
Material: unconventional
Finishing: Cutting out multiple layers of paper and stack them up
Media: watercolor or digital media
Another idea is cutting out few layers of planes and then stack them up according to the hierarchical order (Fig. 9). My inspiration comes from a laser woodcut made by Robbie Johnson and Kara Johnson (Fig. 10).

Fig. 9. Depth level and its application, sketch on 29 Dec 2013

Fig. 10. Robbie Johnson and Kara Johnson, laser woodcut, 2012. http://www.belowtheboat.com

Option 3
Material:conventional
Finishing: —
Media: watercolor or digital media

The last option is painting the illustration with either watercolor (Fig. 11) or digital media (Fig. 12). This will be something that I’m familiar with.

Fig. 11. Personal project, drawn on 2012

Fig. 12. The King’s Pulse, 2nd International Reggae Poster Contest, 2013. Illustrated on 2013

References:
Arnheim, Rudolf (1969) Art and Visual Perception: A psychology of the creative eye. Berkeley CA: University of California Press

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