The laws of nature not only describe the results of observations, but the laws of nature delimit the scope of observations. -Robert Oppenheimer (Theoretical Physicist, 1958)
While in college, time stood still for me inside a speeding Benz one very black night.
My hands, each white-knuckling a clutch of passenger-seat piping and leather. My arms, each locked at its side in upward shrug position. My heart skipped more than a beat. I froze in a silent scream. One. Two.
Snap. Like bullets, my words shot out,
Sarah!!!! What ARE YOU DOOOO-ING!!!!
My good friend Sarah laughed and turned the headlights back on.
Blacking-out any definition between car and unlit country road brought Sarah two seconds of joy or ecstasy or ultimate control. Maybe she just acted on some latent daredevil’s impulse. I don’t know. I still don’t care why she did it. And fortunately, we did not crash and suffered little more than a break in my trust of Sarah’s capability as driver. But that night I understood full-on, why seasoned artists ponder on Negative Space.
Scottish artist, Marion Boddy-Evans says,
Artists use negative space to define a subject. Negative space works when there’s a balance between the positive and negative spaces. Negative space also works when it draws the viewer’s eye into the subject at hand.
Before my friend Sarah turned off the headlights, light showcased the country road. But without light, she had no subject, no road before her.
Imagine Bugs Bunny speeding along and running through a door. What you’ll see in the cartoon is a door with a bunny-shaped hole in it. What’s left of the door is the negative space, that is the space around the object, in this case Bugs Bunny.
Highly Creative people, in all fields, figure out negative space to define their work. Albert Einstein found time (the speed of light) to be the limiting factor defining energy. Only with energy’s limit defined, could he formulate the Theory of Relativity.
What limits Creative work, highlights it.