I recently attended a lecture by Edward Tufte, a driving force behind the information design movement. He has written, designed and self-published several award-winning books that dive deep into the realm of data and statistical visualization — the topic of his presentation. He is also an established artist and shared some of his landscape sculptures before getting started. Simple yet engaging, I found this chapter of his work the most interesting, as it was here that we could see his design approach, ideologies and aesthetics in practice. Here are three of my favorites, and what they convey about space, scale and perspective.
Towers: a new memorial for 9/11
Three triangular minimalist towers made largely of perforated stainless steel. Tufte thoughtfully uses both positive and negative space to create the design. Combined, the structure is stable, but the perforation symbolizes something missing and irreplaceable in the hardened steel.
Towers shows the importance of using negative space as purposefully as positive. What is not there communicates as powerfully as what is.
Three steel branches reach high into the sky above the trees. Inspired by a small twig, Tufte designed this piece thirty-two times its original size, creating new meaning, impact and awe.
Larkin’s Twig demonstrates how adjusting the scale of objects and placing them in new context can transform something common into an interesting and meaningful expression.
Four six foot high stainless steel arcs, tilted 12 degrees from vertical. Tufte plays with repetition, relationship and perception. Depending on the vantage point, the arcs either collapse into each other or stretch across the landscape.
Spring Arcs suggests the importance and relevance of perspective. Knowing where the audience stands is important, as their point of view may change with their position, ultimately impacting how they interpret the design.
Title Image: Petals 1-3
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