The Art of Subtraction on Interactive Designs

By Yueh Hsiu Giffen Cheng.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Following the coming of Web 2.0 age, both the art creation and art appreciation are not longer being the state of one-way communication, but have been replaced by the interactive beauty of sharing and collaboration instead. Taking a viewpoint at the visual design field from the present day, it was not long since books or magazines been the main unidirectional media. However, now the screen and the interaction have become the kingdom of new media.

Hence, the term of “graphic design” is not longer to be simply associated with graphics and texts only, it has also been involving the elements of organized system and planning structure. And yet, the trend towards the interaction of visual communication has moved from the monodrama of original lengthy speech to a brief and sophisticated dialogue. Designers are moving to simpler design directions, sacrificing pages of content for visual organization and minimalist concepts. The adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” is becoming more like “A simple, interactive navigation is worth a thousand pages of content (Mumaw, 2002, p. 7).”

This paper will attempt to explore the art of subtraction on visual interactive designs based on its analysis of two aspects form interactive design works, which are: the subtractive structure and the subtractive visual communication.

Keywords: Interaction Design, Interface Design, Visual Design, Visual Communication

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.259-270. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.564MB).

Dr. Yueh Hsiu Giffen Cheng

Assistant Professor, The Department of Information Communication, YuanZe University, Taipei, Taiwan

“Throughout the life of art creation, countless ups, downs and unpredictable variables await; the constant pursuit of breakthroughs for exceeding thyself will therefore never end. Creating art, writing and educating young people are the three elements that enrich my life. The creation of art allows me to communicate with my own soul and to inspire ideas in me about every trifle in my life. Writing to me is a way of simmering down and sorting out my thoughts. As far as I’m concerned, educating young people is like a farmer irrigating the seedlings. It requires all-time patience and commitment. Although the fruitage might not be perfect, it is definitely worth committing oneself to educating our younger generations.”

Cheng is a Taiwanese New Media artist, Designer, researcher and writer based in Sydney and Taipei. She completed a Master of Visual Arts at the Australian National University and a Doctoral degree from the University of Technology, Sydney. She has edited a series of books and papers on New Media Art and contributed to various exhibitions. Her online-portfolio is available on


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