Killing the Grid

Project Overview

When we look at the wold our eyes are bombarded with enormous amount of visual data.  Somehow, our mind separates the various forms and colors into distinguishable groups or figures. Without this spatial sense we could not navigate in the world or read the letters between visual bodies with the dichotomy of figure and ground. The figure can be thought of as the identifiable form which distinguishes itself from the background.

Expanding on the idea, we can explore two dimensional space by upsetting the mind’s ability to distinguish between figure and ground. In this assignment we will design a space that creates a figure and ground ambiguity. Through careful cropping and balance of tone one can undo the mind’s  ability to distinguish figure from ground.  Once figure and ground are destroyed we must speak of form and counter-form because a figure no longer exists in relation to ground.

In order to master our own visual language each of us must come to an understanding of the most basic visual elements. This begins with an exploration of form, counter-form, figure and ground.

For this assignment you will kill the grid using one of the following nine letter words or phrases:

abstracts, fragments, structure, transform, peace & war, love & hate


New Key Terms:

Form/Counterform | Positive/Negative Space Relationship | Line | Contrast

Gestalt | Crop


killing the grid


Before you begin

Before you begin, create a crop window. One at 2.5 inches x 2.5 inches to help you visualize your crops.


Part A

Draw a nine square grid in your sketch book. Each square should be 2.5 x 2.5.  Arrange the word from left to right and top to bottom so we may read it more easily.  Trace the letter-forms into the squares.  Do not  trace the entire letter into each square.  Crop the letters.

Sketch the letters until they flow into one another.  The grid will become invisible when the letters flow.  Reverse the tone of the figure and ground so that sometimes the ground is black and sometimes it is white. This will help you create a composition that flows.  A minimum of 4 sketches are due.

Part B

Use all 9 letters and crop each letter retaining legibility (use Part A to guide you). Apply those letters using the computer. Use a nice square grid to arrange your word.  Each square will be 7.5 x 7.5 inches. Figure and ground should become ambiguous and fluid.  The grid should be destroyed. One composition is due.


Final Size

Part A

-7.5 x 7.5 inch sketches on nine square grid sketch book

Part B

7.5 x 7.5 inch square grid made of nine 2.5 squares done on the computer