The World Turtle (or, Connectedness and Graphic Art)

turtle - abm creative servicesConnectedness. It’s a word that, in its humanness, stood starkly in importance the other day while I was sifting through a beleaguering array of online job posting. I was looking for graphic-design opportunities when I came across a posting in which an employer invited applicants to submit “clean, precision graphics,” and I understood the invitation. Orderliness and cleanliness are cornerstone elements of things like interface design. Yet depending on how and where graphics are used in tandem with the visitors with whom a site would wish to connect, precision graphics can sometimes be an incorrect approach. In the great web-world reach for cleanliness and precision of appearance, there’s a design point where visuals can disconnect from the human experience, which is to say, the imperfect experience. Indeed sheer contrast has always been the key element that has defined the human experience—discovery through “failure,” renewal through loss, etc. It’s all a balance, just like the Native American myth of the world balancing on the back of a giant turtle. It’s an image that inexplicably floated into my mind’s eye as I considered whether I might be “clean” and precise enough as an artist, and before I knew it, I’d called up a scan of a turtle image I’d freehanded some years back. Rendering it in two parts—a background silhouette textured with a stylized macro photo of a fall leaf and a wire-frame overlay set with a bevelled gradient fill—I set the whole thing against a macro photo of damaged steel. With its imperfect lines seemingly created from a poured-and-cooled liquid and chiselled overall appearance, the final image was not clean. Neither was it precise. Yet as a reflection of the human experience, I felt connected—that by imperfection, I’d reminded myself of what’s arguably most perfect about the world.

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