Proportion is about jealousy. 👁 🐍
One of the most reliable units to measure the impact of an element in space is to compare it to its neighbour. Without an absolute reference, neighbours act as each other’s measuring unit. Judging how much something only makes sense in relation to something else.
Hence proportion turns quantity into quality.
Because in fact, quantity means nothing in the absence of context. Proportion helps you build meaningful relations between objects that create a piece of design. An object becomes big in the presence of a smaller one.
It doesn’t matter how big something is as long as it is bigger than others.
Are you a queen? 👑 Or a servant? That’s what matters. It doesn’t matter how many people you rule in your own queendom ⚜️. (Because there is only one queen, and that’s you. In this case, growth might be irrelevant either. As the most impactful person, your growth wouldn’t make sense for the lack of a higher impact level to achieve. You have already reached your tipping point. If you still have a tendency for growth, you should move over into another composition to hang out with other bigger and smaller objects, where there still is potential for you.)
But when you go to the annual royalties hang out, you might be intimidated by the Queen of England 👑 👑 👑, for example, for being a much much bigger queen than you are. And this gives you a chance to quickly see that your impact in your former queendom has completely changed, even though you as a queen hasn’t changed at all. This is why proportion is about an unhealthy narcissism, self-image, and competitive comparison.
Proportion is also about progress.
We’re not objects. We’re human beings (mostly). And we, therefore, have the capacity to progress. We can grow and change, and the proportions change between us and our environments accordingly. This is why we leave partners and friendships and jobs and places of living. We also need to adjust ourselves due to the change in people around us. If for example, a friend is always too busy to hang out with us, we either rise to the occasion and find similar interests that we can be busy together (this is the progressive option) or we break up with our friend and find new friends who have time for us (this is the conservative option).
In any way, we are forced by our environment to adjust ourselves.
This made me think. As individuals and objects, we thrive on one special place in our biotope. Our lifetime(s) is spent preserving that special place and when we lose it, we’re forced to adjust ourselves. We may be comfortable being one of the big guys. We might be more into being one of the smaller guys. We might like being in the middle. And everything we do in life is to keep the proportional size to our environment. I don’t know. It’s just a theory.
I personally prefer being the most stupid person in the room.
The former gives me lots of room to grow. And the latter makes me angry and I lose respect in myself and detach from my environment.
I think proportion is also about time and rhythm.
Let’s define rhythm as a linear proportional narrative in time. Because rhythm is all about the relationship of parcels of time, it’s very ephemeral, exciting and magical. I want to give a good example about this one and I would have loved to give you one about music making which I lack the experience or knowledge. But I do have a bit of experience in filmmaking that can replace music making for the purposes of this blog. Even though I was trained as a visual person, I think I’m more of a kinesthetic learner. So when someone explains things in emotions, it makes great sense to me.
I found another great open online resource.
There is this Youtube channel called Every Frame a Painting which is a series of video essays about film editing. All of his videos are pretty good, but on this subject, I think this particular one is relevant, which is called How Does an Editor Think and Feel?. It talks (and paints) about the tools editors use through rhythm in a movie to cultivate an emotion. Check out his other stuff too, instead of watching stupid videos on Youtube. Progress.
This post was inspired by the Notebook for Creatives | PROPORTION, in our shop. On its back cover balance is described as "two objects facing one another; one feeling rather microscopic, while the other quite monstrous"