II. The second interpretation of line stems from the basic structure of our visual perception, which out of all visual stimuli (forms, colour, depth, light and shadow) is trained to notice the change of contrasts in our field of vision, thereby defining the shapes of objects by areas where one ends and becomes another. These lines are edges: signifiers of limits, meeting points and changes in surfaces. Such drawings are subjective descriptions, observations of the most recognisable elements in our field of vision.
Each type of line has its own semantic characteristics. Vertical lines can be seen as extending and stretching upwards, resembling standing objects against horizon. Horizontal lines, in turn suggest a vanishing point and the eye level. Diagonals imply imbalance and direction, whereas dots and circles focus our attention to a particular spot. The interaction of these lines forms a dynamic we can recognise. We can call this a system of visual grammar, although our comprehension of it is more automatic than analytical and happens intuitively. Such visuals are simplifications of perception and provide an easier and faster understanding, and consequently find use in media and interaction design, where fast overview is essential.
By drawing objects as lines, it is also possible to make further connections and to understand complex spatial relationships. Architects, including Le Corbusier and Herman Herzberger, favour such form of sketching for recording their impressions, their active analysis and easier remembering. Such sketches can then be revisited on a later date to be developed and combined with further ideas. Herzberger called this store of visual associations his ‘musée imaginaire’23.