Explore Negative Spaces



Our attention is drawn by default to the apparent things — the things that activate our senses. However, exciting and useful discoveries are often hidden in Negative Spaces — the spaces that complement the visible elements: the silence between sounds, the empty space between visual shapes, or the things not said in a discussion.

Proactively Exploring Negative Spaces yields the discovery of new and different insights. Since most of the time, your attention is focused on the visible, these discoveries are surprising detours and potential triggers for creative breakthroughs.

Negative Spaces are like secret doors, hidden in plain sight and leading to new playgrounds.

actionable steps

Actively look for Negative Spaces in physical and conceptual things you Observe. Explore these spaces.

Consider the things that complement what you Observe. Think of the inverted dimensions that might be masked behind the apparent ones.

There are multiple different Negative Spaces to explore. Each of them is the potential source of further insights.


Example 1

Look at a visual artwork. Focus on what is not visible. Explore the spaces between the shapes. Are they meaningful? Could they trigger new insights? How do they affect the way you perceive the complete artwork?

Example 2

In a conversation, also listen to what is not being said. What statements have you expected to hear but didn’t? What is hidden behind the plain words being said? What feelings it uncovers?

Notice the silence between parts of the conversation. Is it meaningful? Does it shed new light on what is being said?

related practices

further exploration

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