Art is the result of Integration of all its components. One can add that the result invites Contribution of and from the beholder.
It isn’t very mysterious.
By components we mean all of the parts which go to make up a whole. In a picture or a painting or ad or set design, this would include such things as the actual objects to be shown, color, color harmony and color depth, depth perspective, geometric design and the use of mood lines, and calligraphy or the form of type to be used. There may be other components which would enter into it as well.
The components that go into a work of art depend upon the art form itself. In music, for example, a matter of integration is that the melody has to match the rhythm and the tonality of instrumentation has to match the mood — otherwise, you get no integration in music.
Components are chosen only because they integrate into a whole design.
Only then does one have something pleasing. Otherwise, everything sticks out like sore thumbs.
Artistic designs are good when they attain a harmony of components. When components clash — except when used to counterpoint or overtly make a clash — it is because they have nothing in common. A Model-T Ford in a 1560 A. D. formal garden is a violation of integration. Because it is an outpoint. Cubes, nicely stacked and orderly, do not blend with broken glass.
Things have to be of a kind to integrate into art and the introduction of something contrary can only be used for counterpoint, perhaps to accentuate the integrity of the remainder.
The purpose of art is to communicate an intended message. Message is what you want someone to think about things. It is not a description of things. It is that which communicates a significance.
Messages can be feelings, sensations, desires, repugnance — practically anything that anybody is capable of thinking of. The idea is dominant. The technique exists to forward the idea and give it punch and power.
Thus, the selection of components that integrate is done to forward and assist the message. And with the selection and arrangement of components so that they do integrate, we are into composition.
But message comes before composition.
Composition is not a subject in itself. It is simply a portion of the harder subjects of meaning and message and emotion.
The word “composition” is misdefined in most dictionaries in that these definitions usually state it is a thing in itself. But composition cannot exist independently of a message. Therefore, I have arrived at a comprehensive definition of it which would be
Composition: Any or all of the actions necessary to integrate and give meaning to a message.
And I have gone further in handling it than the many textbooks with their infinity of rules for composition, some of them valid, many of them false and misleading. I have the why that one should compose properly, and that is to make a scene or picture integrate rather than disperse. That is why one uses color harmony, geometric design, mood lines, center of interest and other such tools.
All one is trying to do is make a scene not violate itself by introducing things that don’t naturally seem to belong to it or, by introducing a positive contradiction, to cause shock or impingement.
Composition is simply locating things as they would be expected and, for impingement, locating something that would not be expected or that contradicts, and at the same time controlling direction and interest.
Composition simply consists of putting shapes together which belong together and not introducing or including something that doesn’t belong there. This applies to objects (type of), color harmony, color depth, depth perception, etc.
In any scene or design there is a center of interest and it would tie in intimately with the message. If one just doesn’t have any message, composition can go awry.
The breakthrough here is that composition is inextricable from message. Without message it becomes merely trite composition. Or one can wind up conveying two messages and this is called splitting interest, which is dispersal — not integration. It isn’t that one can’t have two points of interest but, if so, one combines (or integrates) the two points of interest. If you split interest and don’t combine the two points of interest, the result is no message.
Choice of objects is important to integration. The type or types of objects chosen for a scene must fit together. For example, one may be working with a nautical motif, but that would narrow down to a specific period of nautical history or experience.
The period of decor would not be mixed. If it should be the clipper ship era — 1802 to 1840 — one would choose objects from that period. Figureheads, for one thing, go with clipper ships — the romantic era of sail. So do captain’s chairs.
Introduction of the Queen Mary, which is 1930, into the scene would be an outpoint.
If it is to be integrated, it would be clipper ship, 1802 to 1840.
On the subject of geometric design, a design takes its geometric form from the dominant object you have to include in your scene.
Geometric design has to do with consistency. This also has to do with integration.
Things which do not have a consistent geometric design — although it can be counterpointed by other geometric design — look like they don’t belong there.
As an example of a basic design fault, one could first make the mistake of putting circles on a rectangle and then compound the error with use of rectangular lettering. Different typefaces at different levels, nonparallel, would add to the confusion. The design would lack geometric integration; it would not really integrate with its shapes. The design fault would have to do with nonparallelism of lines.
The artist may know what it is supposed to be all about, but the fact is he is trying to communicate something to an audience. When one has a nonintegrative design — a mixture of circles and spheres and triangles and rectangles and/or different typefaces at different, nonparallel levels, the geometric message is confusing. And the audience result will be confusion.
Classic design is concerned with geometric patterns relating with similar geometric patterns — circles with circles, squares with squares, etc. — which can be counterpointed with other geometric shapes. Other basic shapes are triangles, ovals, rectangles, horizontal and vertical lines. Consistency of the shape chosen, repeated in other shapes, is the basis of classic design.
The whole idea of a design is to make something look like it belongs together.
That is the reason back of use of geometric designs. It isn’t that they are geometric forms. It is to attain the target of consistency and integration. That is why things look smooth and pretty or why they look jarring and ugly. They are either integrated in geometric design or they are messed up in design with mixed geometric designs.
For example, rectangular and octagonal do not go together. Octagons and triangles, however, do go together as the octagon breaks down into triangles.
Rectangles, though, don’t go along with this and, in fact, don’t even counterpoint it.
The essence of geometric design is consistency of geometric form.
Mood lines come into play here as a means of communicating the emotion of a scene or design. A mood line of low left to high right, for example, is optimism, and if that’s the mood the message calls for, fine. If not, one had better select and use the lines that are going to convey the desired mood. Knowing and following mood lines is important in integrating the whole of a thing.
On a set, even the people, the actors, are a part of the design and, if not designed in the same geometric plan as the set, will look as if they do not belong there.
In that your sets are triangular or multiples of triangles, then even your costumes should also be triangular or multiples of triangles.
When these are not consistent, the parts of the set and the people don’t look like they belong together and things look dispersed.
The reason you have set and costume consistency of geometric form is the same reason you have color harmony. It all has to do with integration.
To use color effectively and as a means of integration, one must know how to use a color wheel and how to use color harmony against a color depth perception chart. The color harmony and color depth must agree.
The use of color as a means of achieving integration in a piece is covered in detail in HCOB 26 Feb. 84, Art Series 14, COLOR.
One can and should experiment with that data to gain a familiarity with the use of color and color depth. With a little experimentation, one can quickly see, for example, how one object can be moved into the distance and others pulled into the foreground using color alone.
It can be helpful when initially working out a design to do plain pencil sketches using integrated geometric forms and experimenting with different colors with these to arrive at something that integrates.
Calligraphy or the style of type or lettering to be used enters into all of this. So, also, do type sizes and arrangements.
Disparity of type sizes used in related areas where one would expect uniformity will strike a discordant note. Print sizes varied all over the place on a page simply add confusion and a lack of integration.
And, from the viewpoint of integration, flowing color patterns or lines have no integration whatsoever with a sharp, modernistic style of typeface. The type doesn’t align with the art form, so the two don’t integrate. They don’t seem to belong together, so they don’t seem to be art.
To integrate with flowing color patterns, the calligraphy or lettering would have to fit with lines that give the impression of “in motion” or “flowing” or something similar. Different color patterns or geometric lines would require different types of calligraphy.
In other words, in an ad or other design the calligraphy or type style should align and integrate with the art form used.
And the type style itself should agree with the colors.
One should work toward an integration of geometric message, color depth, text alignment and text.
What is needed is very direct communication in all of those areas.
To arrive at a final design, one that will communicate the message, one has to know that it integrates.
One can describe a possible design but that isn’t a rough layout. It’s just an idea for a layout. What is missing is the artist and his rough sketches of full designs.
Without these one can’t see if it integrates.
Finished art on random components which might become a design is not the basic step, as who knows how they’ll add up in the final product?
One first does a rough layout, or many, based on one or more ideas, and only then could one see what it’s going to do or be. Only then can one see if they will “work” — i.e. , integrate.
Without this, one would be just shooting in the dark.
This data is true of all design — ads, cine sets, great paintings, cars. And in its basics, it translates over into the fields of other art forms — music, literature, any other form of art.
The key is integration.
Begin with a message.
Attain a harmony of components that will assist the message.
Achieve an integration of all components.
You will then have achieved a quality of communication which invites contribution from the beholder. And that is art.