Figure and Ground Exercise
As a first step to understanding Marshall McLuhan’s Laws of Media, the tetrad, one should understand the concepts of “figure” and “Ground”.
Later, the tetrad will be used to illuminate and prospect personal mobile media (PMM).
The assignment is to waste a few hours, at least, looking at pictures in Flickr. Search on tags that you cannot imagine what the picture could look like. What is the figure and what is the ground?
‘Figure’ and ‘ground’ entered Gestalt psychology from the work of Edgar Rubin, 1915, to discuss aspects of visual perception.
They have been broadened to embrace the whole structure of perception and consciousness.
All situations comprise an area of attention – figure – and a very much larger area of inattention – ground.
They define one another.
Figures rise out of and recede back into ground.
Each new figure displaces all others into ground.
The ground comes first and figures come later.
“Coming events cast their shadows before them.”