White Space

"An idea surrounded by whiteness, that is the essential, primordial utterance, the original element of language, older than words themselves” Henri Maldiney

White space (negative space) featured almost everywhere. `not only in design; page layout, illustration and sculpture, but is seen in everyday life. It's a space without content that can be seen in;

  • a film
  • a photograph
  • music
  • dialogue
  • a digital page
  • a room (physical space)
  • a space between building ,under, through, around things
  • negative space in built environment
  • in poetry

It can be made by deleting or retracting content, for example on a blank screen or a blank billboard. Before 24 hour television was introduced, broadcasting would stop at 1am. The provided entertainment replaced by white noise could also be interpreted as white noise. It is empty, a void, lacking content. This could simply be an empty park bench or light in a dark room.

Robert Ryman

Ryman reduced his painting to the strict minimum: the square format and the colour white. He permutated and varied these constants by manipulating scale and texture. Small and large formats were arranged on the same wall and all sorts of media were applied to a variety of supports so that the results were always different. Ryman demonstrated that pictorial complexity can be achieved by using an extremely restricted vocabulary. He sought to heighten the viewer's sensitivity to subtle variations in the brushwork, surfaces and materials employed as well as the relation of the painted areas to the edges of the support. He also insisted on the relation of the painting to the wall on which it hangs, either by attaching it very closely, even to the point of painting the wall itself, or by detaching it in a visually obvious way. From 1976 he incorporated the hanging system into the composition of the picture, using metal fastenings whose function is both visual and practical.

Untitled 1961 Oil on paper 31.7 x 31.7 cm   12½ × 12½"

Anthony McCall

Anthony McCall created his 'Line Describing a Cone' series by using a beam of white light from a film projector positioned at one end of a darkened room. "Passing through the projector is an animated film of a thin, arcing line that, frame by frame, gradually joins up to become a complete circle. Over the course of thirty minutes this line of light traces the circumference of the circle as a projection on the far wall while the beam takes the form of a three-dimensional hollow cone. Mist from smoke machines gives the beam of light a greater density, making it appear almost tangible."

McCall encourages viewers to move around and in front of the projection, and create artwork, themselves. McCall allows for the line of light to be sliced momentarily by a passing body or limb. "The fact that viewers can interact with the work challenges the passive, motionless viewing experience of conventional cinema, while the contingency of movement in the gallery space contrasts with the pre-determined geometry of the line of light. As a result, the emerging cone can be seen as either convex or concave depending not only on where the viewers stand but also on when they enter the space and on how long they spend there." Line Describing a Cone explores the boundaries between film and sculpture, light and dark.

Alex W. Dujet, Plakat

Dujet's piece's identify whatparts of a letter you can remove for it to still be ledgible.

James Bond Gun Barrel Scenes

"White dot blinks across the screen, from left to right. It settles on the far right-hand edge, then opens up to reveal the inside of a sniper’s gun barrel. The barrel follows the silhouette of James Bond as he walks across the white background.

Suddenly aware that he is being watched, Bond turns sharply, draws his own weapon and fires. A wash of red bleeds across the barrel and the dot falls to the bottom left of the screen, whereupon it fades away. " Or re-emerges as seen in the 'Octopussy' opening scene where the circle then becomes almost a peep which is zoomed in on to reveal the first movie scene.

This was the graphically simple, conceptually ambitious idea that Maurice Binder presented to film executives Harry Saltzman and Albert R Broccoli in 1961, during the making of the first James Bond movie. “It was something I did in a hurry because I had to get to a meeting with the producers in 20 minutes,”Binder later explained.


Apple is a good example of how white space can be used to increase the perceived value of a product:

“I just happened to have some little white price tag stickers and I thought I’d use them as gun shots across the screen."

Binder’s price tag stickers would, over the course of 50 years and 23 more movies, spawn ever more elaborate imagery with which to accompany the opening list of cast and crew: from voodoo ceremonies to exploding volcanoes. And, of course, naked, silhouetted girls. Lots and lots of naked, silhouetted girls. The white space draws the audience's attention the Bond.

With regards to the Kill Bill Vol.1 scenes featured Tarantino has used shallow depth of field to create white space and zoom, most effectively on the eyes to draw attention to the emotion of the character. In the first clip, white space is present on the platform. The floor is also physically white which later contrasts with the blood. Purity dirtied by evil. The negative space also reduces as the bodies get flung onto it.

The last clips of each film contain silhouettes, which is most striking. The directors have proven that just shape and sound (with regards to Kill Bill) is all that is required for the audience to follow the plot successfully.

"Recent researches have shown how the more cluttered a shop windows is, the more the perceived value decreases.  For instance, while clothing stores would fill shop windows as much as possible, high end boutiques often display just one mannequin without even a price tag."


Grayson Perry; Red Alan's Manifesto

"Grayson Perry RA once famously asserted, “I can be outrageous because the vice squad is never going to raid a pottery exhibition.” Through traditional craft – tapestry and ceramics – Perry explores a disparity between form and subject and chronicles contemporary life. In Red Alan’s Manifesto, created for the Royal Academy, Perry provides a witty riposte to some of art’s biggest issues, such as: 

Can anything be art? Who whether art is good or bad? The manifesto is written under the authorship of Red Alan, a ceramic sculpture of his childhood teddy bear, Alan Measles."

Marina Abramovic; An artist's life Manifesto

Ken Garland; First thing's first

(Above) This manifesto was written in 1963 by Ken Garland and 20 other artists. It was later published in 1964. The manifesto was a "reaction to the staunch society of 1960s Britain and called for a return to a humanist aspect of design. It lashed out against the fast-paced and often trivial productions of mainstream advertising, calling them trivial and time-consuming. It's solution was to focus efforts of design on education and public service tasks that promoted the betterment of society."

Rei Kawakubo is known to for rarely doing interviews. This manifesto allows us to have an insight into her ideals. "It's a very revealing look at how she conjures up abstract notions and eventually brings them forth and expresses these ideas in the form of tangible garments."

There are 18 parts to Abramovic's manifesto. Throughout, she repeats herself numerous times. "An artist should avoid falling in love with another artist. An artist should avoid falling in love with another artist. An artist should avoid falling in love with another artist" This not only creates rhythm but could be seen as her stressing the importance of the said rule.
The last two parts, explore death and funerals which contrast with the humorous nature featured earlier where she states 'the obvious'; "An artist should not kill other human beings"
She also incorporates bold personal ideals to do with suffering;
"An artist should suffer, from the suffering comes the best work. Suffering brings transformation"
Lastly she considers funerals. Many believe that funerals are only a means to say goodbye however, she sees them as "the artist's last art piece before leaving"
Abramovic has written a manifesto that is so detailed and powerful. She has a very clear idea of how an artist should live their life. She breaks down  an artist's life into categories, giving her manifesto great organisation. She has used a similar format to the 10 commandments which provides an inflexible ideal "Thou shalt not.." "An artist should not..."
The video features Abramovic ready the manifesto. However well the piece work written, it is very much a performance that keeps the audience engaged throughout.

Rose-Lynn Fisher

Tears of laughing till i'm crying, 2013

The Ganzfeld Effect

"The Ganzfeld procedure exposes the participant to ‘unstructured’ sensations usually by placing half ping-pong balls over the eyes so they can only see diffuse white light and by playing white noise through headphones.

It is probably best known for its uses in parapsychology experiments, but it is also used to induce hallucinations and sensory distortions which are much more likely to occur in the absence of clearly defined sensory experiences."

Tears of change, 2013

'Do tears of joy look the same as ones of woe—or ones from chopping onions? In “The Topography of Tears,” the Los Angeles-based photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher explores the physical terrain of one hundred tears emitted during a range of emotional states and physical reactions. Using a Zeiss microscope with an attached digital camera, she captures the composition of tears enclosed in glass slides, magnified between 10x and 40x. “There are many factors that determine the look of each tear image, including the viscosity of the tear, the chemistry of the weeper, the settings of the microscope, and the way I process the images afterwards,” she says'

Some experiences;

“For quite a long time, there was nothing except a green-greyish fog. It was really boring, I thought, ‘ah, what a non-sense experiment!’ Then, for an indefinite period of time, I was ‘off’, like completely absent-minded. Then, all of sudden, I saw a hand holding a piece of chalk and writing on a black-board something like a mathematical formula. The vision was very clear, but it stayed only for few seconds and disappeared again. The image did not fill up the entire visual field, it was just like a ‘window’ into that foggy stuff.”

“an urban scenery, like an empty avenue after a rain, large areas covered with water, and the city sky-line reflected in the water surface like in a mirror.”

“a clearing in a forest, a place bathed in bright sun-shine, and the trunks of trees around. A feeling of a tranquile summer afternoon in a forest, so quiet, so peaceful. And then, suddenly, a young woman passed by on a bicycle, very fast, she crossed the visual field from the right to the left, with her blond long hair waving in the air. The image of the entire scene was very clear, with many details, and yes, the colours were very vivid.”

Tears of elation at a liminal moment

“I can see his face, still, it’s very expressive… [I could see] only the horse that comes as if out of clouds. A white horse that jumped over me.”

“A friend of mine and I, we were inside a cave. We made a fire. There was a creek flowing under our feet, and we were on a stone. She had fallen into the creek, and she had to wait to have her things dried. Then she said to me: ‘Hey, move on, we should go now’.”

“It was like running a bob sleigh on an uneven runway right down… [There] was snow or maybe water running down… I could hear music, there was music coming from the left side below.”

“In the right side of the visual field, a manikin suddenly appeared. He was all in black, had a long narrow head, fairly broad shoulders, very long arms and a relatively small trunk…. He approached me, stretching out his hands, very long, very big, like a bowl, and he stayed so for a while, and then he went back to where he came from, slowly.”


Add comment

Fields marked by '*' are required.
Comments are moderated. If you choose to make this comment public, it will not be visible to others until it is approved by the owner.
Help for "License"
The license for this content.

Help for "Licensor"
The original licensor for this content.
Help for "Original URL"
The original URL for this content.

Reply to:

Private: This reply will only be visible to you and the author of the preceeding comment.