Negative Space

The first word that comes to my mind when I think of space is negative space. I see negative space as the space that helps create the positive space around it.  Negative space is like a wallflower of sorts and the positive space becomes the social butterfly of an image. I think that both are, and should be, of equal importance.  For any work in any medium to be successful there has to be a balanced attention to both spaces; for there to be a positive space, there has to be a negative space.

With this project of space I am interested in working with paper. Last year in my Drawing 1 class I had created a work using three layers of paper. I recorded the sounds of our studio room during class by marking the page and later cutting out the various sized scribbles. Arranging the paper in a wavy motion, one behind the other, I created layers of negative spaces between each page. I find paper to be a very versatile medium so I would like to go into more depth with this concept of layering the negative spaces.

This brought me to the idea of using pages in a book.  I am either going to create my own book or use a sketchbook, depending on the time constraints.  With using a book I make or a sketchbook I would leave the pages blank except for the negative space that would be cut out. Also, with the blank pages, there would be a delicate quality to the edges of the negative space, rather than using pages with text on them (which would add a density to the work). I will be creating images of an open space: an empty parking lot, field, sky, bathtub; anything that can be empty. This plays with the idea of the empty space of the page transforming into an image of emptiness. Even though I am discussing the concept of negative space, what I will be cutting out in the image is the positive space. I decided to cut out the positive space due to the fact that when all of the pages are compiled and compressed together, the negated positive space will then create a negative space.

I have researched artists who work in either negative space, paper, or with books as their main medium. Some that I have really enjoyed were:

 Simon Schubert ,

 Jen Khoshbin , and

Emma Van Leest  

These were the three artists that I found that have the delicate, fragile quality that I would like to emulate in my work.

I would love to hear your feedback with any questions or comments you have. I also want to know how using a readymade book or one that I create could or would change the end result of the work (that is the one component of this piece that I am still thinking through). Your advice would be most appreciated!

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3 Responses to Negative Space

  1. smcabrera says:

    Alayna this seems like a great idea to portray negative and positive space. Despite the time we have to finish project 1 it would be really interesting if you made your own book because you can control the look and qualities of the piece. Is the size of the book or sketchbook important to your idea? Were you planning on cutting pages out of a thin or thick book or sketchbook?

  2. alaynafriesen says:

    Yeah I was leaning towards making my own. You all said exactly what I was thinking, it would make the piece more interesting and I will have control over the look and the amount of pages. I’m thinking the book will definitely be smaller than 8.5×11. I find that smaller books or sketchbooks have an element of intimacy to them and I like having to get closer to the work in order to experience the essence of the work. And the thickness of the book depends on how many images of space I decide to go with. I would say no less then thirty pages.

  3. I think you’re on a good path here, Alayna. Smaller is better, and made by you is better. Can you do one papercut per day until crit time or is it slower than that? If you choose to use an existing book instead of making one, the specifics of that book will be important. A blank sketchbook is as empty as it gets, I suppose, but is there some other sort of book that has content already but is at the same time empty in another sense?

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