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Read Between the Frames: 5 Books for Visual Thinkers

Have a spare moment? Here's a selection of favorite books that explore the idea of crossing transitional space, each with its own take on what lies in-between...

Understanding Comics

1. Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
An entertaining analysis of how comics work, in comic book form. Scott McCloud dissects just how a comic artist gets the reader to experience time and space in a flat, "still" medium.


I particularly enjoy his explanations about what happens in between the panels. That's where he says the unique power of comics lies.

The Dot and the Line

2. The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics by Norton Juster
A witty picture book that tells a love story between two characters from different mathematical states. Double entendres abound. Especially like the modernist, mixed-media illustrations. It is also an Academy Award-winning animated short film, animated by Chuck Jones.


3. Flatland: A Romance of Many Directions by Edwin A. Abbott
Written in 1884, it's the great uncle of The Dot and the Line, and worth mentioning, as it's a classic. Set in a two-dimensional land, a Square starts to ponder the possibility of other dimensions after meeting sphere from Spaceland.

in betweenplaces

4. In Between Places, Uta Barth, Photographer
This book is out of print, but you can substitute one of her other monographs. Beautiful photography of moments and spaces that don't have a traditional foreground subject, but instead create an atmosphere where it seems something is waiting to happen.

uta barth

Familiar places become enigmatic with her use of light and cropping: the corner where the ceiling meets the wall, the out-of-focus view through a window. Poetic images that are strangely cinematic—I'd sure like to have a print for one of my in-between (wall) spaces.

5. Duck! Rabbit! By Amy Krause Rosenthal
Recently published children's picture book that takes the well-known optical illusion and turns it into a charming tale about seeing something multiple ways.

duck rabbit

Yes, there can be two points of view that can exist at the same time...a nice lesson to realize early on! Now, who can we read this to...

Late-breaking news: I just checked out the article Negative Space: The Inside-Out Illustrations of Noma Bar (on this very site) this morning. His negative-space illustrations are right up my alley–
I'm looking forward to seeing the book, which looks to be a likely addition to this list!

Read more of Karin Fong's The In-Between Spaces blog
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Karin Fong is a director and designer based in New York City. As one of the founding members of Imaginary Forces, Karin's work spans the diverse worlds of entertainment, experience design, and advertising. Among her best-known projects are title sequences for such films as Terminator Salvation, The Pink Panther 2, Ray, Definitely Maybe, and Charlotte's Web. Her work in designing television titles earned her an Emmy Award for Masterpiece Theatre's American Collection and a nomination for the hit NBC series Chuck.

Karin's interest in pushing the boundaries of cinematic experiences has resulted in numerous environmental design projects across the country, including sites as diverse as Las Vegas, Lincoln Center, and the Los Angeles Opera, while her expertise in both live action and design ultimately led to directing television commercials for such clients as Target, Honda, Sears, and Herman Miller. Recently named as one the Top 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company magazine. Karin has had work in the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, Artists Space, and The Wexner Center, as well as in numerous publications on film and design.