Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Flow & Alignment - Verging on the Obsessive

Here is a little game (I think) many of us play - lining up objects in our line of sight.

At least I think it is normal behaviour, but I also know that in the extreme it can be a sign of obessive-compulsive behaviour - the latter kicks in when you feel you have no choice but to create order out of what are random variables.

I sometimes catch myself tilting my head, or even moving objects, to position or frame things in my view. Examples that come to mind include lining up fence posts, moving the salt and pepper shakers to line-up neatly or centring an image in a window.

I know it seems unrelated, but I am sure that feedback and flow plays a major role in this. The desire to create some kind of order is triggered when we find we have some simple control over our surrounds - that by merely adjusting our perspective (tilt our head) creates some apparent order that is satisfying in some way. These are some of the key ingredients of flow .... which might explain why one does it.

If you are unconvinced, I give as an example a print advertisement I saw not long ago (must try and get an image to post). It was for the YellowPages and showed a guy doing hanging wallpaper. The key to the image used was that the two sheets of wallpaper shown were tantilizingly close to being aligned - just a fraction off. The image presented a dynamic (cognative) tension where 0rder was soooo close but had not yet been achieved.

Not sure how many of us experience the above .... maybe it is verging on the obsessive, but it is all a matter of degree. Someone in the marketing department thought the image of nearly aligned sheets of wallpaper had some interest .... I know I could find a similar dynamic in art.

So, hopefully I'm not in the minority with this compulsion for order. I'd rather think of it as exercising a simple feedback mechanism that provides a simple and innocent vehicle for internal order (given it is alignment only in one's own perspective) and flow.