BALANCE in DESIGN – Part 2

Post 631 –by Gautam Shah

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Balance is an equalizing phenomenon. It manifests in many different forms. It is a state of stability, but ignored as a habit, or nominal happening. Imbalance, however, represents the direction and scale of change. A dynamic balance is cyclical occurrence and may be perceived, if the change of the frame is within perceptive capacities. Static balance is an intermediate or temporary frame of an event or experience.

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Strong inclined line of coast and presence of water body in the centre, add to dynamic balance > Puerto de Burdeos Edouard Manet (1832-1883)

Balance is an experience that is a ‘non-changing’ reference in a situation of consistent momentum. It can also be felt while moving along known tracks, such as of perceiver’s sensorial capacities, mental conditioning and collection of past experiences. Prime experience of balance can be subjective, but with repeat experiences become delineative.

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The horse Fair > Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899)

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The fall of Phaeton > Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)

The balancing mechanisms, in natural systems, are obvious in direction perpendicular to the gravity or other strong forces. In contrived compositions like art, craft, architecture, etc. the change is effected by desire to defy the nature. For these sensorial aberrations are used.

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Multiple axis and shifting balance > Cave Painting at Roca dels Moros, Catalonia Spain, Wikipedia image by Enric

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Detail of the Ramsund Sigurd stone C. 1030 Swedish art > Wikipedia image by Ann-Sofi Culled

Anything that is lastingly balanced is related to the horizontal, whereas the imbalance is analogous to the vertical. Horizontal can have several stacks of mass and energy along its body, each of which may be dynamic due to the changing environment. These stacks cumulatively represent the supine motion and seem interrelated. Vertical, if it has, differentiated stacks of mass along its body, reflects the direction of likely disturbance or unbalance.

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Dissolving Horizontal and Vertical for ephemeral feel > Sunrise impression by Claude Monet (1840-1926)

Contrived (man-made?) compositions depend on distribution of mass and energy in real, ephemeral and metaphysical realms. In real sense, the horizontal and vertical are extremes, but do not challenge human body system. Inclined is more persistent and effective, because it has longer length. For an ephemeral feel, the differences between horizontal and vertical are dissolved. Metaphysical flavours are implied by inconsistencies of presentation, typically through thematic narrations. Framing has been used in compositions, to include or exclude such elements thematic narrations.

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Ceiling fresco, Marble Hall, Seitenstetten Abbey (Lower Austria) by Paul Troger 1735 : Harmony between Religion and Science

 In art works foreground and background differences were primarily achieved through scale, but in later periods, proper perspectives and toning down of details of specific and also far-off objects were used to create an equilibrium in the image. Centric and off-centric vertical axises are used to form triangles, with gravity-base as stable pyramidal composition. Centric and off-centric horizontal stratification helped balance formation between solid objects (ground, terrain, humans) and ethereal elements (skies, clouds and angels). To these were added, the inclines for direction, orientation, scaling, distancing and unnerve the serenity. Imbalance was forced by placing ethereal elements below the frame dividing axis.

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Contemporary Dance Center Performance Rage Box > Wikipedia image by Michael Muccioli from Bel Air US

Image elements like flora and fauna were placed in their naturally perceived sense of scale, orientation and visual axis. These were too disturbing in any other manner of presentation, except for grotesque or fiendish forms. But surprisingly, their place was more often, above the frame-dividing axis.

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Tree Roots > Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

Sculptures and artefacts are created as axially balanced or challenged equilibration. These have no permanent framing and are to be experienced from all sides and angles except the bottom (gravity support face). Equilibration through symmetry, imbalance, dynamic and static balance, are caused by distribution of mass, texture, colour, angulation and turnaround of body. These are also achieved by presence (solid) and absence (hollow) of the mass. Mobiles and hangers supported on a pin or hung from thread, are truly equilibrated. These are liberated from the ground side.

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Andre Bloc – Sculpture-habitacle Meudon, France > Flickr image by Florent Darrault

Balanced moving or rotating parts, like axle, wheels, bearings, reduce the friction, vibrations and energy requirements. But imbalanced movements help compactors, vibrators, forging and drilling machines. Non synchronized movements are important for bridges to reduce the cyclical or incremental loading. Helicopters and aircraft are considered balanced when achieve consistent balance. Earth orbiting stations are ‘balanced’ when able to synchronize or equilibrate their position with reference to the earth.

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Balanced steam Turbine rotor > Wikipedia image by Siemens “Pressebild” http://www.siemens.com

 Architectural balancing is real and also very articulated. The real one deals with physical stability and consistency with movements, whereas the articulated one is a perception created for the age, culture and relevance. Architecture forms its acts of balance and movement from other forms of expressions like literature, performance arts, lifestyle, art, artefacts and sculpture.

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Bridge in Humble Administrator’s Garden, Suzhou, China > Wikipedia image ###

Next few articles will examine these acts of balance and movements in formal architecture and vernacular built-forms. First Blog on this topic was published here > https://interiordesignassist.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/balance-in-design-part-1/

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