Clean design

“Clusters”: The Experimental Art and the Study of Characteristics of Space When Occupied by Elements.

“>”>“Clusters”: The Experimental Art and the Study of Characteristics of Space When Occupied by Elements.

“>”>Assist. Prof. Pailin Phokthavi


Spatial quality is always in awareness of practitioners in the fields of architecture and interior design. To serve the functions of activities is basic; however, to understand the characteristics of spaces is beyond. How we perceive the relationships between ourselves, elements in space, and space itself and how space arouse our feelings bring it closer to artistic quality.

For the experiment, it means to study the characteristic of space and present the result with artworks. Dot stickers are used as a tool to experiment the occupying on the surfaces of space and area to observe the differentiation happened in the space. The design of the art pieces are also planned to allow the audience to interact with the objects, the spaces, and the changes. The elements and presentation of artworks are aspired to imply some meanings of the critical situation that impacts the feelings of people today, such as the Covid-19 situation. Dot stickers are the representor of “cleanliness, disease-free, and safety”, and the illustrator of a cluster of people.

This work consists of 3 art pieces in the form of a small space study models, using an acrylic and frame box.

Acrylic cube#1: a space is created of when dot stickers are placed repeatedly. As the clusters of dots gradually cover the transparency of the cube shell, the space in the cube can also be gradually perceived.

Acrylic cube#2: The transparency gradually reduces when dot stickers are applied and the layers are filled, but the set of layers helps the perception of the eyes to combine all planes and leads to see as if the whole is a mass.

The frame: Studying negative space occupying by positive elements, dot stickers are pinned in the space of the frame. They are allowed to be selected where to place by the interacting audiences who need to decide the best place.

In artworks, occupying more space and area, dots become clusters. The “clean” space or the rest negative space that is available for more dots has been reduced. As in the Covid-19 situation, people who get infected occupy the space and area more and more, and our clean space or safe place is brought to be less and less. The artworks also aim to portray the meaning of the situation and motivate the audiences’ decision in select and interact with the positive and negative space when placing a new dot sticker. “Will you put your dot close to the cluster or as far aspossible in the clean area? But once the clean space becomes less, what will you do?”


Not only artworks have been created, but the study of space has also achieved its objectives. As an interior designer, we always work with a tangible space in the sense of realistic, providing a good space that fits best with functions or use is adequate. However, from the experiment model study, it is my first time observing the real act of a space occurring related to the change of simple elements.

All three art pieces convey the gradual transformation of space and mass occupied by dot stickers. Meanwhile, the cubes and the frame presentation and the use of dot stickers are simple tools to simply attract audiences’ interaction. In the acrylic cube#1, from the emptiness in the first place, the space is finally defined by dots. Also in the acrylic cube#2, the mass appears when the transparent layers become opaque planes by the occupying of the dot elements. The perception is deluded to combine all planes into one mass. Lastly, the frame of dot clusters represents the quality of positive and negative space when the clusters expand in the area.

Portraying the state of “clean” gradually changed to “full” of clusters, the artworks also hint at some meaning of the situation we have to face as our daily life is occupied by the situation of the disease and our clean and safe space has been run out. When a dot sticker is held in a hand before being placed on the artwork, it can represent all as a symbol of safety, a representative of one in a space, an element which transforms the space, and a creator of the clusters.

Objectives Aims or Purposes

  1. To study characteristics of space when occupied by some elements, in this case, dots are used as the elements and represent the occupiers in the space.
  2. To create artworks that can be viewed as the implied meanings of the present social issues in the pandemic; people aggregation, clusters, and disease spreading.
  3. To engage audiences to interact with the art pieces with the simplest action by attaching stickers or pinning dots, and to take part in the spatial experiment.

Process or Methods

  1. 6.1. Set up a question from background
    In interior design or architecture, when emptiness is called a “space,” it must be related to some functions served by this vacant volume. What happens inside is, most of the time, focused on. Nevertheless, the act of a space is actually farther. The characteristics of a space are absolutely related to its form of external shell and occupancy of internal elements. (Holzer, n.d.) When the shell of the volume has been varied or the elements have been modified, the space will show different characters. (Valle, n.d.)

    As a space designer, the study of characteristics of space has always been in my interest. Since to study about characteristics of spaces requires 3 dimension experiment models, it has brought my thought to a question; “can a space design be studied, observed, experiment, and at the same time, combined to or presented as an artwork?” Artistically, I believe that the study models can serve as presented diagrams as well as express as works of art. At this point, art merges with where it is related to and beneficial to interior space design.

  2. 6.2. Study the issues and develop the concept
    Space is strongly bonded to form. It is the vacancy between the boundary of the space and us. (Valle, n.d.) When form is defined, space is also defined. There is no space without its boundary. Therefore, the boundary or shell of a space plays the important role. How space will be if we can transform its boundary by some elements? Here, the transparent acrylic cubes are used as a start point of the experiment to blur the vision of space boundary, making the extent of form disappear. As each dot sticker is placed on the transparent surface, its plane becomes more apparent. Then, space in the cube becomes evident as well. The sense of enclosure is strengthened while the transparency and flow of interior and exterior are broken down by the elements, the dot stickers. (Valle, n.d.)
    This is because of our perception of space that the relationships of objects and elements are recognized when some alteration occurs in space. Two and three dimensional images and positive and negative space are instantly visualized. (Spatial Perception: Cognitive Ability, n.d.) Therefore, when some surfaces of the cubes or some negative space on the frame are filled in with clusters of dot stickers, our brains tend to piece together the rest pictures to form the space completely.

    Space and mass are companions on the other side. The absence of mass is space, while the presence of space is mass. (Ackerman, n.d.) As in positive and negative space, this relationship also takes place. The perception of mass is embedded in our senses as well. (Ackerman, n.d.) Therefore, it is impractical to study space only without mass. Space and mass are resources for architecture. Elements in space and of mass are composed, organized and linked. When changing a part, it affects all. In the panel layers cube in this set of artworks, before dots are added to the surface, there is emptiness; each plane is transparent, and it seems like there is no limitation of the boundary. Once dots are placed, the layers become more and more obvious. Since 5 layers of planes are visible by clusters of dots, our perception combines the planes into a mass.

  3. The meaning of “Dots”
    Inspired by an image of street element turned into a piece of art by dot stickers used for marking people who pass screening points for covid-19 and applied by the pedestrians, the dot stickers are selected to be the main materials in the set of the artworks “Cluster.”
Picture 1: The inspiration from street objects highlighted by dot elements

A simple characteristic of a dot is the power to draw attention. It is a primary basic element in art, giving the meaning of emphasizing, pointing out, and eye catching. Relevant to space and forms around dots, they affixes themselves in and initiate an interrelation. (Bradley, 2010) The power of a dot increases when another dot is placed next to the first one. The closer the dots are in space, the more the tension between two grows. When they come closer enough until touching or overlapping, the united dots form into a new object. The consequence of clustering dots creates a new different form of dot, or even a new plane. (Bradley, 2010) For the reason, in the experiment, the dots are used as a tool to create planes and shape a space or a mass.

Why it has to be “dot stickers”? Dot stickers are simple objects and uncomplicated to invite the audiences to interact with art. In artistic implication, in the conceptual relation to the situation of Covid-19, dot stickers can be interpreted both ways: first, attached prominently on our dress after passing screening area, they stand for a symbol of “cleanliness, disease-free, and safety”, and second, as an illustration of a cluster of people.

6.3. Design and create the experimental artworks

To study the characteristics of space gradually occupied by dot clusters and to create the experimental art pieces, two acrylic cubes and a frame are set as spaces and an area. The intention and expectation in this experiment and creation of the art are the interaction of the audiences by placing stickers inside the cubes and pinning stickers on the frame, creating the change in the art pieces and their spaces. However, the interaction is limited due to the exhibition situation that needs to be arranged online. Thus, video recording is used to capture the result of change.

Experiment Results:

Acrylic cube#1: The emptiness and invisibility of the space can be noticed in the beginning when the acrylic cube is totally clean. Placed by the dots continuously, the cube is gradually covered by the clusters. Until the clusters of dots act as planes, and the positive surfaces of the clusters have grown large enough to cover the negative voids and define the enclosure, then the characteristics of the space have been shown. By placing a dot sticker, audiences can be a part of the interactive creation of the space.

Acrylic cube#2: When the empty volume of space has been filled, or we perceive some degree of occupying in the space. Then we will observe a mass. (Bradley, 2010) From the reference, the study model has been set with 5 layers of acrylic plates placed equally as a form of a cube. As same as the cube#1, the transparency of the plates deludes the eyes to see through the layers, and the space is blurred out. When the dot stickers are applied on all planes, and the dot clusters engage the layers, the eyes instantly perceive the depth of space and mass by comparing the positions of the dots on each layer.

The frame: An area in the frame of the artworks has been occupied by dot stickers, depicting the image of clusters expanding in space. The dot clusters are positive elements that occupy negative space. The intention of this artwork is to arouse the audience to make a decision where to select the clean space to pin as more and more dots are pinned, the clean area of negative space will reduce, and the clusters become larger until they occupy the whole space. The implied meaning of the art is as in the situation of Covid-19, when infected people increase, in some cases as a cluster. We have to choose the safest place for ourselves. Therefore, in this experiment of space, some interactions between the negative and positive space, the art piece and the audiences are created.

Techniques and materials


used in this artwork consist of 2 parts:

Part1: dot stickers (the elements):

Dot stickers are used as experiment elements for attaching on space surfaces to portray the clusters of occupiers in the space as well as represent the marks of cleanliness approval.

Part2: 2 acrylic cubes and a frame (the space):

Acrylic cube#1: an empty transparent 20 cmx 20 cm acrylic cube with a side opened, used for the experiment of space.
Acrylic cube#2: empty 5 acrylic panels, set as a 20 cmx 20 cm cube for the experiment of space and mass.
Frame: an 80 cm x 80 cm white frame, worked as a canvas for the experiment and represent negative and positive space consumed by dot clusters.


Mix media: Dot stickers attached and pinned on the surfaces of the acrylic cubes and frame. (The audiences are allowed to participate in the interactive process, creating of artworks, experimenting, and observing the phenomenal of space simultaneously.)

Size or Mins.

Photos (2-5 images): Process of experiment and creating artworks
Picture 2: The emptiness of initial space in the cubes.

Picture 3: Experiment, interact, and record the transfomation of the space.

Picture 6: The Frame: the study of occupying positive and negative space.


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