This assignment is about the experience of form in space. Your intention should be to recognize perceptions where form and space produce strong contrasts—where the experience of the form is heightened because of the space around it.

People sometimes understand the assignment as shooting “sticks in the sky.” They shoot pictures of telephone poles against the sky, bare trees against the sky, and chimneys against the sky, but this is too literal. All of these subjects fit the description of “form and space,” but the challenge with this assignment is to tune in to the experience of simplicity, not look for things that we think should fit that description.

Simplicity and space are aspects of our perception. Visual space can be produced by a red wall; a length of gray fabric; or a smooth, sandy beach. It can be produced by a backdrop of dark shadows, gray pavement, a tabletop, or a stretch of smooth concrete. Even the sky can create the experience of space—if we don’t take it too literally. An object seen against any unadorned expanse will be surrounded by visual space.

Images from this assignment might evoke Japanese aesthetics, which often feature spare and graceful objects against simple backgrounds that bring out rich textures and subtle colors: a Zen garden with a few large rocks in an expanse of neatly raked gravel or a large gold leafed screen ornamented with a painting of a single branch of cherry blossoms.