Line, the elemental foundation for print and number, has determined much about twentieth-century life and success in our culture. Isobars, arteries, fault lines, line drives, battle lines, lines of credit, timelines, lines of type, notes, and numbers-stretchy, slinky, fixed or floating, dotted or dashed, lines connect two or more points. And the points are, as mathematicians remind us, infinite. Writers pen story lines; programmers, lines of code. Biologists decipher lines of DNA; entrepreneurs develop product lines. Singers follow melodic lines; jazz musicians improvise upon them. Where do you enter the element of line? As storyteller or scribbler? With delight for a maze or an appreciation for ballet?
Shapes shape other shapes. As shape finders we look for symmetries, for foreground and background, for the doughut and the hole, for the whole of the thing that is greater than its parts. Putting puzzles together is playing around with shape, and so is the literary love of beginning, middle and end. Pleasing shapes play their part in our neighborhoods, our furniture, our plates and platters, our shoes and our cars. Shape-makers include sculptors and typographers; mathematicians with their worlds of symmetries, microbiologists, industrial designers, and couture clothiers. We shape play with shells and rocks, with clay and cookie dough, with big bouncing balls, and smooth, sleek kitty cats.
At its most direct, tactile information is as close as it gets, up close and personal, right at our fingertips. Texture is smooth, woven, wrapped, slippery, shiny, course, rigid, and reedy. We see texture, too, and hear it in a voice or a song. Our days are rough or smooth, our moods even or edgy, our voices piercing or pointed. Surgeons, weavers, gardeners, art collectors, textile designers, and chefs-all must pay close attention to texture. Do you remember exploring texture in the sand box, through a microscope's lens, coiling clay snakes, eating icecream, or squishing toes in the mud?