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This week I'm going to look at what relation the science of physics can bring to the field of art so that you can produce designs which are accepted by their target audience.

Sounds technical doesn't it?  Don’t worry, I'll keep it easy on the science and focus on the art!

Firstly, here’s the boring stuff to bring everyone up to speed!  Energy is a flow, it moves through space and can be measured in lengths which we call wavelengths.  Some wavelengths are big and some are small.

We perceive energy all the time – have you ever walked into a room and just know there has been an argument very recently, it feels tense and uneasy doesn't it?  Conversely have you ever looked at a scene, object or person and been overwhelmed with joy?  This feels good doesn't it?  And we will look at why this is later.

Boring part over!

Well, sort of – next we need to go off a slight tangent into a sub field of philosophy: aesthetics.  We are going to get to the good stuff, I promise!  Plato believed that for an object to be aesthetically pleasing it must incorporate proportion, harmony, and unity among their parts.  Similarly in physics Aristotle said that the universal elements of beauty were order, symmetry, and definiteness.  This is one of the few cases where philosophers have complemented and agreed on something!

Let us tie this all together and get onto the good stuff I promised you!  Art is subject to criticism from people who think they know but really don’t know the aesthetics, as art is the least codified and organized subject there is it tends to attract to it “authorities”.  An authority is someone who knows what is right or wrong, good or bad and too often is reduced to the ability to memorize who did such a piece, when it was and how they did it they are rarely people who actually produce anything!  Art is a personal choice without a doubt and the good art tends to invite the viewer to contribute something – it invokes feeling.

If art invokes feeling, which is a manifestation of energy it will flow and have a wavelength.  Emotions have wavelengths too, for example anger is a very gross wave, thick hard and erratic; whereas serenity has a gentle thin and pleasing wave.  It’s when we starting heading towards serenity that we start to tickle the band of aesthetics, and this is where we want to take our designs.  Uniformly it can be observed that something with a high aesthetic value is greatly accepted in a direct comparison to something bland or that would produce a negative emotion such as anger, fear or apathy.  Lets have a look at a clichéd subject pair of images just to make things easier:

Pictures themed on Hell seem to produce gross waves, perhaps fear or anger whereas heaven produces cleanser soft, smooth and pleasing waves – it’s aesthetic. Unless you are a teenage goth!

How can you use any of this?  Just remember that your design will produce an emotion and you are going to get a better acceptance if you aim for the aesthetic band.  Look at Apple and their products, even if you don’t own a Mac or iPhone you just can’t help but notice that the objects are beautiful.  Their designs are aesthetic and pleasing, so the wavelengths are minute and easily received.

A good design can take an unwanted or unaccepted idea, concept or object and present it in an aesthetic manner which in turn makes it accepted.

In case you glossed over it, the way to attain something aesthetic is to make something which satisfies the following requirements: proportion, harmony, unity, order, symmetry, and definiteness.  That is of course if you wish to design something beautiful, sometimes it is necessary to produce negative emotions in which case just reverse part or all of the aforementioned points.  You can produce a negative emotion with symmetry to make it accepted!

In summary then: remember what wavelengths you are intending to create with your design and then produce it.  Aim for the aesthetic band for a broader acceptance of the design and most importantly test the effect on a few people to see what effect and emotion they get from the design.  

 

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