What is "Space"?

Space is the field in which an artist works.

A painter's space could be the surface of a canvas as defined by its edges. In many 2D formats, figure/field are technical terms used to describe a spatial foreground/background (object/ground) relationship. A printmaker's space could be defined by the area used to present one print from the printer's multiple-issue identical "edition." A graphic designer's space can vary depending on how an adevertising campaign will be delivered to its target audience. The area might be as small as a trademark or as large as a corporate, world market website.

Similarly, a sculptors work in "real" spaces--including installation formats, that, though three- dimensional, may not be bounded by physical limits. Sculptors become very aware of hands-on work with mass as well as voids, the interior spaces defined by external contours.

What does Space do?

Regardless of the art media or the display area deployed, the element of space always occupies a position and direction relative to the viewer. One quality of space may easily be translated into comprehension of the term scale--with its requisite proportions of relative size from monumental to miniature.

For example:

Is a painting's scale small enough to be held in hand? OR Does the painting require a wall as large as a room? OR Does the artwork create spatial illusions? Metaphoric Exaggerations? And/or forced perspectives?

Another example: In viewing 3D works, the viewer may encounter the artwork by moving around a structure or through a site-specific installation. When the audience moves around a sculptural object in its presentation site, perspectives are constantly changing and the viewer may encounter totally new visual relationships in the time and space it takes to examine the artwork.

Space references the position and point in time inhabited by the viewer. The ability to manipulate space can directly affect the viewer's perception of a work or the space identified by a work. Space can refer to the positive area or space that the artwork occupies physically. Space can also designate an area that is "activated" by the artwork--this is sometimes referred to as negative space--although it may not be limited to select voids or areas contained within a work's contours.