Study: Negative Space

DotsInterleaved study 2

I’ve been a bit obsessed with [tag]John Maeda[/tag]’s book, Maeda@Media. It’s a very visual journey through his works and artistic process. I find his work very minimalist, which is fitting for a man who wrote a book called “Simplicity.” Not only is it minimalist, but essential, in many ways – stripped to the core.

At first glance, I thought some of his works were too simplistic, and uninteresting, but the more I look at them the more I understand about the ideas underneath. Like all great art, the presentation is a function of the concepts flowing beneath the dark waters.

Speaking of dark waters, I wrote a little [tag]Processing[/tag] program to duplicate some of his works, so I could manipulate and build on them. These explore the concept of negative space vs positive space in an image, and what sort of interfering patterns can be created from them. This is a first study, and my goal is to add these images with transparency in the negative (black) regions to my [tag]pixelist[/tag] set as interfering, spherical, overlapping worlds that I can manipulate live using the [tag]wiiremote[/tag].

John Maeda’s website is and is books are well worth a look. Apologies for “stealing,” but as Picasso said: “Bad artists copy, great artists steal.” And I’m such a great artist (cough, cough)…

NOTE: If you actually look at the source code, you’ll see that instead of simply drawing shapes, I used a very basic and rough animation class to do the drawing each frame. This makes the code a bit more complex to read, but it also implies that there are animated versions of this code that exist somewhere… In fact, it started out as an animation, and may well end up that way. I used Perlin noise at first to generate random interference patterns, but didn’t like the results as much as a considered, algorithmic approach.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.