Ambiguity of Positive and Negative Space

September 16, 2012

Ambiguity of Positive and Negative Space

Beijing 2008 Olympics Logo (Left)
London 2012 Olympics Logo (Right)

The logos I have selected for their strong use of positive and negative space ambiguity are the two most recent Summer Olympics logos. The one on the right, the 2012 Summer Olympics logo, drew a flurry of criticisms during the most recent Olympics season; unfavorable opinions ranged from finding the logo to not be an effective representation of the games’ location, to the logo being too aesthetically dissonant, to even saying the shapes resembled the Simpsons character Lisa Simpson doing some inappropriate activities. The logo is actually an interesting, geometric based text of the year 2012, and I appreciate that the designers opted to avoid trying to base the logo on any cliché symbol or image representing London.

The Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics logo, on the left, also utilized positive and negative space; the logo itself was a design crafted to resemble the Chinese stamps that artists use. Typically, those stamps have Chinese hanzi characters of the artist’s name. As you can see, the Beijing logo utilized this classic Chinese signature and designed a free-form human shape to emulate/take the place of where the Chinese character usually would be. The organic shape of the red background is also aesthetically pleasing and overall the logo is a strong visual statement of the Olympics as a platform for international relations and friendly competitive interaction.

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