The World of 2-Dimensional Images (Flatland)

Summary – Here’s an interesting story, Flatland. It may help you think about dimensions in a new way. May even be a good prelude to our upcoming look at Visual Design of 2-D images.

Flatland – A book written in 1884

Classic of science (and mathematical) fiction describes the journeys of A. Square and his adventures in Spaceland (three dimensions), Lineland (one dimension) and Pointland (no dimensions). A. Square also entertains thoughts of visiting a land of four dimensions — a revolutionary idea for which he is banished from Spaceland.


Click on this copy of the book’s cover to read the book

9-11-2013 1-38-44 PM.

The Flatland Book Cover


Flatland, the story

The story is about a two-dimensional world referred to as Flatland

which is occupied by geometric figures

Women are simple line-segments

Men are polygons with various numbers of sides

The narrator is a humble square, a member of the social caste of gentlemen and professionals in a society of geometric figures

Square has a dream about a visit to a one-dimensional world (Lineland)

Inhabited by “lustrous points”

He attempts to convince the realm’s ignorant monarch of a second dimension

but finds that it is essentially impossible to make him see outside of his eternally straight line

Square is then visited by a three-dimensional sphere, which he cannot comprehend until he sees Spaceland for himself.


Long ago & far away (over 30 years ago)

I tried to find this book

It took months + a dedicated librarian

Today – seconds on the internet

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about Flatland


What does this have to do with photography?

Directly, not much

But – it’s an interesting tale about dimensions

It may have a few take-aways in the study of

Visual Design

The representation of 3-D objects in 2-D space


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4 thoughts on “The World of 2-Dimensional Images (Flatland)

  1. I had forgotten all about this book. Thanks for reminding me. Will definitely re-read.

    • Besides the link in this post, it’s available at Amazon in Kindle format for free. Unfortunately the Kindle version has no graphics, but has the advantage (using the desktop Kindle Reader app) of searching, highlighting, etc.

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