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the theology of art, pt. 1: positive/negative space

February 26, 2010

the principle of positive and negative space in design is this: positive space is the defined space which the artist designates as an object, and negative space is the resulting shape defined by what space is “left” from what the positive space took up. in simpler terms, positive space is the object on the paper and negative space is the white of the paper that you still see (in case you’re wondering, yes, this is stuff you pretty much already know, but with the cool terms art snobs like to come up with). the thing artists keep in mind though, is that both spaces are defined by each other. when you draw a positive shape, you are at the same time drawing the negative shape as well. you cannot have one without the other, and when you adjust one, you are adjusting the other at the same time. the other thing to keep in mind is that you can’t really have too much of either; the amount is simply defined by the subject matter (this is, of course, up to debate for aestheticians, but of no real dispute in the world of Theological Synergy). also, in order to designate either space as “good” or “bad” is to say the same for its converse. you’ll never hear an art teacher say,”well, the positive space in this piece is excellent, but the negative is all wrong” (unless the teacher is bonkers, which, unfortunately, is not a far stretch).

the idea of faith and deeds is similar in concept. despite whatever argumentation has been made for either side, the Bible illustrates that both are equally important and only occur as results of the other. as C. S. Lewis puts it, to argue that one is better is the same thing as saying one blade on a pair of scissors is better than the other (which i actually think is a better illustration than the one i’m using, but i’m a designer; it’s who i am). also like the two kinds of space, when you try to sharpen one side of the dichotomy, the other benefits. the real false thoughts are to start thinking one is better, or  one needs more influence.

all senseless debacles and inane argumentation aside, everyone needs faith and deeds and you cannot truly have one without the other. we need to let the shape of our deeds to be formed by our faith and vice versa. this is not an idea of right or wrong or black or white. these are two playing cards leaning on each other that need to be structurally sound.

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