ground becomes figure
August 12, 2006 5:33 PM   Subscribe

Fascination with ground and figure carries on in various fields after The Rubin vase / face Illusion, M.C. Escher, and Marshall McLuhan. Besides being extremely important in the fields of photography and poetry, the figure/ground relationship is important to physicist Paul Davies, who says "the true miracle of nature is to be found in the ingenious and unswerving lawfulness of the cosmos, a lawfulness that permits complex order to emerge from chaos, life to emerge from inanimate matter, and consciousness to emerge from life." Also, Peter Grundy and Yiang Yan discuss how contextual ground relates to linguistic figure in Bill Clinton's famous apology, Andrew Graydon plays with the distinction between sound as environment and sound as music, and W.C. Richardson creates paintings in which "positive and negative spaces seem unstable; figure becomes ground, ground becomes figure."
posted by Aghast. (3 comments total)
I actually liked the Paintings link more when I tipped my LCD waaay back to improve the contrast (I was trying to see what the form in the background was.)

Because it's an old LCD, it kinda inverts the dark areas, brings out the background and turns the orange to a nice scarlet. Much better in my opinion.

Not that there is anything wrong with the original.
posted by quin at 5:48 PM on August 12, 2006

I just tipped mine back and you're exactly right. Much much better on my new LCD for the same reasons.
posted by Aghast. at 5:56 PM on August 12, 2006

I hope more people are checking this out than are reflected by the amount of comments. I loved the "illusions" links, and the linguistics link made me think of George Lakoff and his concept of framing.

The trick is to see the forest and the trees.

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.-F. Scott Fitzgerald

posted by Enron Hubbard at 5:40 AM on August 13, 2006

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