What is Dynamic Symmetry?
Dynamic Symmetry means a certain form of composition—a way of building a picture or other object in good proportion so that it is pleasing to the eye. Numerous ways of getting composition have been tried since the world began. Dynamic Symmetry is the method by which the Greeks built their temples and their gods. In the Middle Ages, a different form of composition was used. The Japanese, Chinese, and others used different forms.
Remember, while Dynamic Symmetry is a wonderful thing, it is not the only way of getting a good composition. Dynamic Symmetry really means a composition of spaces or areas, one in harmony or sequence with another. There is a composition of line, of space (notan, as the Japanese call it), as described by Dow, and of mechanical balance, as described by Poore.
An artist who wishes to express action, animation, or movement, will find that Dynamic Symmetry answers better for all his requirements. This form of composition is a composition of action, which does not necessarily mean that a figure has to be in motion, but simply that the lines or masses express motion. In Dynamic Symmetry the compositional forms express motion. Opposed to this form of composition is one called static, or still—a bisymmetrical composition is often a static composition.
Dynamic Symmetry is really not difficult to learn providing you look at it in a simple, common sense way. Remember, it is not one man's theory of composition—it is the Greek form of composition. A Grecian would have said, for example, this page was composed in a Root two—as we say so many inches high and wide. Root One was a square, and from this, they constructed Roots Two, Three, Four, and Five, etc. Ours is linear measure, and theirs is a measure of space. Dynamic Symmetry composition is not a thing that will make you mechanical, as it bears the same relationship as perspective to composition. If you know the laws of perspective, you draw the perspective freehand.
By drawing a square, you make a Root One. The diagonal of Root One is the length of Root Two; the diagonal of Root Two is the length of Root Three; the diagonal of Root Three is the length of Root Four; and the diagonal of Root Four is the length of Root Five, etc. If the Greeks wanted to measure the ground of a temple, they would say it was so many Root One's, Two's, Three's, or other roots.
If you paint a picture and use one of the roots for your size of canvas, you will have a well proportioned form to start with, so far as proportion of space to be covered. Inside of this form, we may wish to place a composition, and we want to know where the objects are to be placed. One should think of composition as a means of expressing an idea based on a psychological reaction of the onlooker, and this reaction is based on a previous experience, either physical or mental.
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