This book is about how pictures take on meaning from the forces acting between the "centers" within them. In Arnheim's words "Geometrically, the center is defined purely by location as the point equidistant from all homologous points of a regular figure. Physically, the center is the fulcrum around which an object balances. Perceptually, the "balancing center" is the point at which all vectors constituting a visual pattern are in equilibrium. In a broader sense and irrespective of location, any visual object constitutes a "dynamic center" because it is the seat of forces issuing from it and converging toward it." Simplistic compositional tips like "avoid the center of the picture" and the fulcrum principle(balancing objects on the left and right of the image according to their visual weight), by being integrated into the theories presented here, are put into a larger context and derive greater meaning.
Various topics are covered: how differently shaped frames(vertical rectangle, horizontal rectangle, square, circle) emphasize the geometrical center in different ways and how that effects meaning. How objects within a picture derive meaning from their location within it, and how they attract and repel each other. 2D and 3D interpretation of pictures. Symbolic or metaphorical meaning derived from vectors, the pushes and pulls of action within the picture. "Micro themes" located at the centers of pictures which summarize the story, pouring water in a bowl to symbolize conversation, a hand supporting another to symbolize the theme of support. I found the book very informative, giving me lots of things to look for in pictures, and ideas to try out in compositions.