Spiral Handle

Spiral Handle: An Example in the Art of Eye Entrapment

Spiral Handle is a study in the artistic principle of eye entrapment through the use of form and linear direction. This detailed photograph of a spiral iron handle proclaims several unique artistic features that hold our eyes to the image and prevents our escape.

The door is very old and worn. Rust is prevalent and easily shown by the characteristic heavy black pitting on the metal. But it is the remains of the paint or whitewash chipping away in the lower corner that grabs our attention from the overall picture.

The darkened wood grain gives a sense of movement from the bottom of the photograph to the Spiral Handletop. The eyes love to follow linear lines and the natural grain of the wood provides this for us perfectly.

So, we indulge our natural instinct and follow the lines towards the top of the image. At the top, we discover the spiral end of an iron cast door handle. The handle sits as a rebellious decorative creation in complete contrast to the linear grain of the door.

Since it appears on top of the grains in the wood plank we naturally will follow it’s course across the picture. It is obvious that the handle was not mass-produced and the blacksmith knew his trade, for the handle has a smooth spiral curvature that interrupts the smooth wood lines of the door.

This curve creates an unpredicted result as our eyes move through the piece. Instead of exiting the top of the frame as we might expect, we are suddenly cast off in a sideways motion of following the spiral to its natural conclusion at the beginning of the handle. The artistic workmanship of the carved crisscross pattern further enhances our eyes desire to follow the handle and recognize it’s function.

As we follow this pattern to the copper handle guard, we have lost all sense of straight lines found in the wood and have instead entered a land of circles. The guard itself is not a true circle but rather an scalloped version. Nonetheless, the circular formation draws our eyes to naturally look for the next available shape.

Now we see the true artistic power of this image. The round lock of the circular keyhole inside the circular lock is upside down! On modern doors the lock is usually placed above the handle not under it.

This detail brings us to the next step in our eye following journey. Our eyes move from the paint to the spiral followed by a trip down the handle to the guard, which, due to it’s round shape, led us to the upside down circular keyhole in a circular lock.

It is at this point that we realize that this picture captured us and took us prisoner. For the very next detail that our eyes gravitate towards is the same linear pattern of the wood planks and the bright white of the paint where we began our journey.

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