Whether you’re standing, sitting, lying down and consciously aware of it or not, your personal horizon line falls parallel to and at the elevation of your eyes above the ground plain. Where the water and the sky meet when at the beach for example, while the only horizon line in sight, is shared by you reclining on your beach chair and by your nearby children playing freesbie. One common horizon line, different perspectives – a life lesson in itself!
So what’s wrong with this picture hanging effort? Is she holding the picture at that level to read the title and artist’s name at the bottom? Likely not! She, a museum curator no less, and her assistant (off stage right) are hanging art the way most of us do, unless, that is, we step into the third dimension.
As mentioned in my Jan. 1 “Difference Between a Building and A-Work-Of-Architecture – a room and a space” blog, a building is about square feet (2D reality) while a-work-of-architecture is about cubic feet (3D reality). And so it would be expected that within ‘a-work-of-architecture’ you’d find horizon line art, the 3D way of hanging pictures. Keep in mind, though, this 3D picture hanging approach does not require a-work-of-architecture, but can easily be accomplished in any ‘building’ – your home, office, classroom, home schooling space, or any space where there’s a wall for a picture
Firstly, it’s well above the level cone of vision of an average height person, the center of which is approximately 5’4” above the floor, perhaps the precise height of her cone of vision, her eyes.
Secondly, the glaring reflection of the ceiling light fixture will be visible to almost anyone standing within effective viewing range of the picture hung where being proposed.
And thirdly, and related to the focus of this blog, is that it’s being hung without any regard to the merits of ‘Horizon Line Art’ (HLA). How different the experience would be if she lowered the picture so it’s very strong horizon line were aligned with the bottom of the ‘overlaid arrow’, down to her eye level. HLA at work!
Often, though, the nearest pre-installed nail will suffice, right? Come on admit it! Okay, perhaps you’ve got some help: “Honey, how’s this”? “Yah, great”, often the reply, perhaps from the man of the house, as the picture hook is hammered into place.
What the above photo and perhaps your own personal picture hanging approach have in common is the 2D ‘arrangement’ method, no different than a 2D graphic design arrangement of pixels. Whether the museum’s curator is consciously aware of it or not, her picture location choice is in response to either that existing ‘nail’ or to various other vectors such as: the location of the floor, ceiling, partitions, partition area and perhaps even other art work hanging nearby; all these ‘objects’ influencing where and at what height she hangs this particular picture – a great picture, BTW, for the implementation of HLA – the 3D approach.
Years ago SpaceTherapy® co-founder, professor of architecture, world class stained glass artist and three dimensional (3D) photographer and long time friend, Roger Richmond, was sharing with me an image of a Japanese rock garden, viewed through a hand held viewer with it’s own built-in light source – a perfect set of conditions for maximum viewing experience of any 3D image.
While viewing three-dimensional projected images through those multi-colored 3D glasses is a fairly standard and impressive visual experience, the hand held viewer is supreme!
If the user of that hand held viewer is paying close attention, he or she can place their body and camera orientations in the same position as that of the photographer of that image. The ground plain you will be standing, sitting, knelling or lying on (image communicating cues guiding your choice) will merge and become one with the ground plain viewed in the image. At that very precise moment of seamless congruency you will be pulled into and become one with the image – no different than the visceral experience the photographer was having.
On that day, with that particular rock garden slide, it happened when I was lying belly down with elbows supporting the hand held viewer. The experience was startling and profound. I was one with the scene.
It was also the day my consulting and residential design clients started to benefit from the merits of the HLA approach to picture hanging – a technique that honors the perceiver while also providing a ‘virtual window’. Think of the possibilities for those window-less office cubicles and hospital rooms, or for transforming a boring ‘room’ into an enriching ‘space’.
So how precisely does this work?
Give it a try. Gather artwork that has a fairly well defined horizon line or vanishing point. Choose which pieces you wish to use per room, which if hung at the right height, will support the primary body position for that room’s function. A living room, dining room or office is primarily about sitting; entries, hallways and kitchens are about standing; where bedrooms and your favorite couch-potato couch are about reclining. Remember, the picture’s horizon line must be at the same height off the floor as your eye level, whether you’re lying down, sitting or standing. Enjoy!!
So in addition to the curator lowering that picture, explore what it feels like to install your own favorite strong horizon line picture at your eye level per normal body position for chosen space; or the hanging of that eagle picture up high and the flower image down low where they were relative to the photographer.
Whether for morning lounging in bed, working at your home office desk, or greeting guest at the front entry, there’s an HLA opportunity – a way of taking another step towards breaking free of the box, of creating a more permeable connection between one’s inner ecology and one’s outer ecology; in the space where those two worlds meet, your ‘personal environment’ – another topic for a future blog.
Next week’s blog will probably explore creative techniques for using existing furnishings to create a good spatial massage, a compression/release experience as you move room-by-room through your home or office.
Let me know your thoughts or questions.
P.S. I have decided to do only one blog per week – hopefully on Wednesday’s (one day late this week); what was I thinking when aspiring towards three per week, when I, probably like you, need some white space in my life – another topic for a future blog, ‘white space’ and the art and science of de-cluttering.
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