CDF P2 Documentation


The goal of this project to is to use only black squares to represent 5 abstract concepts: order, tension, congestion, playfulness, and comfort. The black squares can be of various sizes, orientation, and they can bleed and overlap. My final work is displayed in the picture above and I will discuss how I approach each abstract concept.


I believe that order should be something symmetrical or represents a clear pattern. Order can be indicated through the same size or an increasing or decreasing pattern of size. The placement of the squares should also follow a certain rule. They can be straight or diagonal, or they can create a shape structure such that the viewer can predict what the shapes will be like given a larger canvas. My five paper sketches are displayed as follow.

Order (Paper Sketch)

The first one lines the four squares together. Distance and alignment is critical so the distance between the squares and between the squares and the edges are the same. Equal distance creates order.

The second one lines up the squares in a queue. It looks like four people who are exactly alike are waiting on a line with complete order.

The third one is similar to recursion, a order built on recursive rules where there is a square within a square within another square. The largest black square and the white space also creates another square.

The fourth one creates a lines of square with distance proportional to each other and are coming at four directions. The size of the squares gets smaller and their distance also gets closer, creating order that is proportional, symmetrical, understandable, and predictable.

The last one creates order buy building a tower that is firm and on top of each other, with a light at its top. I think a light tower gives people direction and direction leads to order.

Order (Digital Iteration)

I then tried ideas on Adobe Illustrator and realized the importance of alignment and equal distance, which can be seen in the first two sketches. Utilizing the space and be precise on the details is critical.


Tension (Paper Sketch)

I believe that danger, pressure, confined space, and being dragged and pushed creates tension. This can be represented by covering a large area with black or using various sizes to create sharp contrast.

The first one brings the idea of confined space, where squares are being packed together and there is no place to go. A large area is covered in black and this is in some way similar to congestion.

The second one is a square trying to jump to another platform and is taking a leap of faith. The uncertainty and the danger of falling down creates tension.

The third one is a square being stuck in the middle, on the brink of falling down but with just the right distance that it stays. This leads to suspension and tension.

The fourth one resembles a string and it feels like an object is being dragged from four directions.

The fifth one shows a small square that is about to be crashed by a giant square, invoking sense of danger and tension.

Tension (Digital Iteration)

I tried the ideas and see if size can lead to differences. The second and fourth one has two different squares and even though the fourth one has a bigger square, the tension doesn’t seem to change that much because the frame limits its activity and feels more like being stuck rather than falling down. For the third one, the square is being pushed to the side and that is interesting because there is the tension of not being able to break the limit of the frame.


Congestion (Paper Sketch)

I believe congestion is built through the concentration of many objects or being consumed by a very largest object. The space between objects should be small to represent that.

The first one is like a chaotic traffic situation where cars of various sizes are driving without order in a road.

The second one is also traffic but an intersection that leads to deadlock. No cars can move and more cars are coming, worsening congestion.

The third one is a container filled with squares that are close to each other.

The fourth one is a frame that is consumed by a black square so huge it creates congestion.

The fifth one is a pillar stressed by force, creating congestion to the bottom of the floor.

Congestion (Digital Iteration)

In the iteration, I explored white space. Image white space as the color consuming the entire canvas, isn’t that a form of congestion? In the fourth and fifth one, I want to bring more chaos to the traffic scenario by making the orientation of the squares more random.


Playfulness (Paper Sketch)

Playfulness to me is being unruly, free, and think out of the box.

The first one is like a series of particles jumping and having fun.

The second one is similar to an electronic game and the square needs to pass the obstacles to go on top.

The third one is like a snack trying to reach its own tail.

The fourth one resembles the path of a square being bounced back and fourth in a frame.

The fifth one imitates Ant Man as he goes from big to small.

Playfulness (Digital Iteration)

I made some changes to the Ant Man case where he jumps up in the end. This uses negative space and leads to unexpectation and playfulness. For the fourth one, I want to see if particles are moving in straight lines, will it become more playful? The answer is no because it looks like order and that’s not my understanding of playful.


Tension (Paper Sketch)

Comfort to me is either simplicity or the natural flow of elements.

The first one is a square in the middle which is very simple.

The second one is like signal spreading further and stronger.

The third one resembles a couple and the top and bottom is like ground and sky.

The fourth one has a clean cut and binary representation, which is clear and simple.

The fifth one is a ray of light which is simple but I don’t quite know its meaning myself.

Comfort (Digital Iteration)

In the digital iteration, I am exploring the flow of elements. In the fourth one, the pictures looks like the flow of water but that looks too chaotic so the fifth one looks more clear. Then I thought, what if the flow of element can be circular, and that leads to the sixth idea.


The instructors and my friends really gave me lots of valuable feedback. Those include the alignment of objects, the size choices, utilization of white spaces, exaggeration, how to deal with edges and many more. By learning from other people’s work also opens a new world for me.

Final Piece

I chose the above 5 because I believe that they communicate their concepts most effectively and by putting them together, there is a clear contrast that each of them represents divergent abstract ideas. I decide to use fewer squares as possible to enhance abstraction rather than being too literal.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.