Figure/Ground: Jonathan Martinez

This is a photo that uses white as the background (ground) and black as the up-front visual (figure). Photo was found at OpticalIllusionsPortal – a free to use image site.

The photo I chose uses figure and ground with the main structure of the visual. When I think of the concept of figure and ground, I typically think of a dual-meaning or double-edged sword regarding what is perceived within an image or pattern. For example, like the famous image everybody has seen some variation of, the vase and the two faces. This style of image is the most perfect example of the use of figure and ground. You can look at the image in only two ways. You can see the vase, or you can see the two faces that create the shape of the vase itself.

What is depicted in this photo are the words “Dead” and “Alive” mixed together using white background and black foreground. This pattern, or use of what we normally see as blank space, is especially interesting because it uses the gaps inside the letters to depict a double-meaning into the visual space. I also found it quite interesting that they author chose to use the color black for “Dead” and white for “Alive”. I am not 100% positive if this was a specific design choice, but if it was a design choice, then I immediately took note of it and found it to be most profound. Aside from using the words, the colors also tied together the idea of “life” and “death”.

My image doesn’t necessarily have a particular use, function, or application that I could specify. It is quite basic in the sense of content and what can or cannot be perceived. However, it an be viewed as an example much like that of the two faces and the vase. It is a one dimensional image that has two perceptions that be seen in only two ways.


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