Thursday, 1 July 2010


Probably the most remarkable fact about circles is that they are all similar, and you only have to look at a tree-stump to see that circles define trees. Trees are not linear but circular. And many hats are often circular even though the heads that inhabit them are oval. Because geometry is a branch (pardon the pun) of mathematics, it is usually thought of as something worked out by man. But geometric shapes existed in Nature long before there were any human beings on earth, or under hats.

For example, many growing things show geometric balance and evenness in their appearance: in any pictorial arrangement, the darkest tree contrasted against the lightest hat (or vice versa: the tree could be a Silver Birch and the hat a Homberg) will be the centre of interest. But to make such values effective in pictures they should be limited in number and simple in tone, for any complexity is always confusing and difficult to comprehend.
There seems to be a long historic precedent for the use of the ‘magic’ three in pictures, for one is monotonous and two divides attention. Three, however, seems to be complex enough to be interesting without also being confusing. Numbers beyond three – even when two hats and a missing torso add up the same pictorial value as a truncated tree –tend to be difficult to comprehend visually. 

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