A tenuous balance maintained in an object between opposing formal or allegorical forces or elements often causing anxiety (from dissonance to angst to pain) or excitement (from the simply interesting to the utterly sublime). It embodies what is sometimes called edginess or frisson; and bears comparison to unity, harmony, and variety.Tension might be considered one of the principles of design.Quote: "Life itself consists of phases in which the organism falls out of step with the march of surrounding things and then recovers unison with it. . . . [But] if life continues, and if in continuing it expands, there is an overcoming of factors of opposition and conflict; there is a transformation of them into differentiated aspects of a higher powered and more significant life. The marvel of organic, of vital, adaptation through expansion . . . actually takes place. Here in germ are balance and harmony attained through rhythm. Equilibrium comes about not mechanically and inertly, but out of, and because of, tension. . . . Form is arrived at whenever a stable, even though moving, equilibrium is reached." John Dewey (1859-1952), American philosopher and educator. Art as Experience, 1934. Republished by Capricorn Books, NY, 1958, p. 14. "It is weight that gives meaning to weightlessness . . . I realised that lightness added to lightness does not add tension but diminishes it." Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988), American sculptor, in Sculptor's World. Also see grotesque, incongruity, juxtaposition, rhythm, transformation, and weight.

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