Illusion of Motion
Design Basics by David A. Lauer and Stephen Pentak (pages 201 through
Launching the Imagination:Two Dimensional Design by Mary Stewart (3-30
Kinesthetics is the science of movement. We consistently engage in a complex balancing act
even in the process of walking. When confronted by a life-size figure as in Robert Longo's
Men in Cities series, the lunging movement of the model resonates on a physical level. Based
on our personal experience, we feel as well as see the gesture.
Capturing the gesture at the right moment is critical. In Myron's Discus Thrower, the athelete
is caught at the moment before the whirling vortex of energy explodes, releasing the disc.
By capurturing this moment rather than the moment of release, the sculpture has trapped
within the marble the energy of the throw.
Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson used his understanding of impending change to formulate a theory
of photography he called "decisive moment." A pioneer in the use of the 35-mm camera, he, too, caught
images at the moment of greatest impact, creating photographs that are charged with possibilities.
Before and After
Likewise, to create a story through a single image, many illustrators deliberaterly plan the
moment before and after the actual drawing. For example, anticipation plays a major role in
Chris Van Allsburg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Each drawing is accompanied by a title
and an abbreviated text.
As an object moves, it sequentially occupies multiple spaces. Visual multiplication helps capture
such movement. The superimposed figures in Thomas Eakins' Double Jump record the multiple spaces
the man occupies during this atheletic event.
As soon as shapes begin to lose definition, they tend to lose stability. Shifts can occur in
both time and space. A self-portrait by Francis Bacon provides a strong sense of three-dimensional
volume while simultaneously dissolving any conventional sense of anatomy.
Multiplication creates a different effect in George Tooker's Government Bureau.
Repeated images of the central male figure combined with endless bureaucratic faces
creates a scene from a nightmare. No matter where the man goes in the hall of mirrors,
he always returns to the beginning.