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DECEMBER 2013

COVER

THE DRAFTERY

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Issues of Translation in Digital Aesthetics

COVER

DECEMBER 2013

THE DRAFTERY


INFORMATION

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HANS TURSACK / CAPTIONER Hans Tursack is a designer currently based in Princeton, New Jersey. His work explores the intersection of contemporary painting, sculpture and architectural practices. Currently a masters candidate at the Princeton School of Architecture, Hans studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Cooper Union School of Art in Manhattan where he earned his BFA in 2011 with a concentration in painting, drawing and printmaking. His written work has been published in Pidgin Magazine. HUGH MCEWEN / ARCHIVE NO. 057 Hugh McEwen is a London based teacher, writer and architect. He is a partner at the architectural design practice Office S&M, teaches at Oxford Brookes, and has been published in international peer reviewed journals and national magazines, recently including Blueprint, A10, and the Architects’ Journal. His work examines the methods by which architecture can express and condition social outlooks and political positions. As well as being Unit F Design Tutor at Oxford Brookes, he has taught at the Bartlett and acted as a guest critic at Kingston, Brighton, Greenwich, and the AA. www.officesandm.com PETER JELLITSCH / ARCHIVE NO. 043 Peter Jellitsch is an artist living and working in Vienna. He holds an M.Arch from the Academy of fine Arts in Vienna, where he has studied Art and Architecture. For the time he is residing at the Citè des Arts in Paris. In 2014 he will be Artist in Residence at the MAK / Schindler House in Los Angeles. Among others, Jellitsch has received the Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky Award and the Outstanding Artist Award by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Art and Education. Peter’s work can be found in permanent collections such as the SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) and the MMKK Carinthian Museum of Modern Art. www.peterjellitsch.com

ISSUES OF TRANSLATION IN DIGITAL AESTHETICS

THE DRAFTERY The Draftery provides a focused context and pointed commentary on the drawings of lesser-known architects, artists, and other practitioners by focusing the conversation on how and why they draw. More than mere representation, drawings exercise power in the built environment; and this reality remains inadequately addressed in a world more focused on technological advancement than methodological understanding. We talk about how architects function in the world today by looking directly at the documents, models, and drawings that orchestrate the constructed world. Visit us at www.thedraftery.com Geolas Pubishing 1072 Bedford Avenue, #108 Brooklyn, NY, 11216 U.S.A. CAPTIONS Captions is a digital-first publication offering detailed and critical commentary on drawings previously published in the Archive. The Draftery invites a guest critic to select and comment on a set of drawings according to a theme they find relevant to architecture today. Calling attention to the elements of their rhetorical force, each Caption takes drawings out of context, lays them down on a dissection slab, and makes a detailed analysis of their parts and techniques. CAP. 01 EDITORIAL Athanasiou Geolas CAP. 01 DESIGN Jesen Tanadi Athanasiou Geolas

ISSUES OF TRANSLATION IN DIGITAL AESTHETICS

INFORMATION

DAVID LEMM / ARCHIVE NO. 104 David Lemm is an artist based in Edinburgh, Scotland. He studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee. Fundamentally his work aims to explore and interpret systems for defining reality. He primarily works in printmaking, drawing, collage, and video installation. Recent work has centred around shamanic practice within indigenous peoples and the navigation of physical and metaphysical space through idiosyncratic cultural constructs. In 2012 he completed an extended research project with The Onaway Trust and was recently shortlisted for the prestigious Engramme Exchange Prize. www.davidlemm.co.uk CAP.01


4. I immediately thought of Michael Graves’ amazing elevations from the 70s and 80s. He drew in color because his elevations were about color—albeit artificial, surface coloration. Po Mo was all about imaging architecture and I think Perspective evinces an awareness of that history.

18. The strongest quality of Perspective is that it isn’t a throwback and doesn’t wallow in historical references despite its medium. However, the outside edge of the drawing seems to say something like, “the drawing ends here, but you can imagine that it continues…”

REFERENCES »» Pop painting »» Lichtenstein »» Rosenquist »» Hamilton »» 80s Neo-Geo crowd »» Peter Halley »» Jeff Koons’ recent paintings »» Josef Albers »» Vasily Kandinsky »» Al Held’s expansive perspectives »» Fred Sandback »» Wolf Kahn »» Michael Graves’ amazing elevations »» Charles Moore »» De Chirico’s paintings of vacant space »» Henry Moore like object in the middle ground »» Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash” »» Uncannily similar to 2nd Life »» Benjamin Edwards and Julie Mehretu’s work »» If you ever had a Nintendo 64 you might re member the environments from Extreme G

28. Snow Crash, written in the early 90s, is uncannily similar to 2nd Life. There’s junk everywhere—the novel revels in the capitalist trash bin of cyberspace. Ads all over the place. Your visual field is completely saturated with signage. McEwen’s drawings are definitely channeling a similar space. 3. Oil painting, graphite drawings, even gouache and watercolor have been re-invented several times over in the past century. Pastel is one of the few mediums, like etching, that still feels impossibly weighed-down by the baggage of European easel painting. 31. McEwen’s drawings strike me as more self conscious in terms of their medium and the fabric of historical references they weave. Sketchup, in this case, is probably more of a drafting aid. He could have just as easily made a physical maquette to figure the space.

1. It speaks less to a predetermined color scheme than to an improvised celebration of the spectrum. The unfiltered quality of the color range makes it read like a dissonant collage, whereas Modernist color theory in the manner of Albers and Kandinsky was all about creating harmonies. 5. Perspective also neither abandons a sense of reality (shade and shadow are believable), nor does it follow it through. Flat color, a shaking hand, confusing spatial depth, and ambitious layering of volumes encroaching overhead—all suggest a greater interest in this drawing’s rhetorical focus. 10. Beyond the surrealist tropes, Perspective also has food carts; prosaic additions to the scene that are all the stranger since again, they appear indoors.

ISSUES OF TRANSLATION IN DIGITAL AESTHETICS

6. I think there is more to the fantastical utopian quality of space in Perspective. The exuberant patterns, technicolor pallet, perspective games and stage-set quality of the architecture reminds me more of Nintendo 64/Playstation graphics than Charles Moore.

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ANNOTATION  1 / 3

HUGH MCEWAN, THE AYLESBURY TOWN HALL: PERSPECTIVE STUDY OF CANTEEN AND ENTRANCE TO RECORDS DEPARTMENT

11. Paper architecture has historically had a curious relationship with Surrealism and Early Modernist abstraction. I’ve always found it strange for example, that Cooper [Union]’s program, under Hejduk, developed an entire pedagogy in the 1960s and 70s by looking at European easel painting from the first half of the 20th Century. It’s especially strange when you consider all that was happening in New York, and specifically in Lower Manhattan during that time (right at the school’s doorstep). Koolhaas revisiting Dali in the 1970s was a similarly bizarre example of an architect making a speculative project with hackneyed painting references.

ISSUES OF TRANSLATION IN DIGITAL AESTHETICS HUGH MCEWAN, THE AYLESBURY TOWN HALL: PERSPECTIVE STUDY OF CANTEEN AND ENTRANCE TO RECORDS DEPARTMENT

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HUGH MCEWAN, THE AYLESBURY TOWN HALL: PERSPECTIVE STUDY OF CANTEEN AND ENTRANCE TO RECORDS DEPARTMENT

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HUGH MCEWAN, THE AYLESBURY TOWN HALL: PERSPECTIVE STUDY OF CANTEEN AND ENTRANCE TO RECORDS DEPARTMENT

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26. There isn’t the assumption that they want you to know what it feels like to be there. Because there is no “there” in these drawings; they are primarily analytical.

ISSUES OF TRANSLATION IN DIGITAL AESTHETICS

30. He runs it through his eye and hand as another process of translation. In this way, errors, shortcomings in technique and misreadings might produce something beyond his original model. Similarly, with David’s drawings, when you run an image through a printing process (silkscreening in his case), the material translation will mediate the drawing in a way you don’t necessarily expect.

REFERENCES: »» Columbia’s “paperless” studios »» Members of the Surrealist camp creep into the conversation »» Futurists »» Yves Tanguy »» Joan Miro’s Lunar Bird series »» Umberto Boccioni »» In the manner of Edward Tufte »» Wade Guyton and Kelly Walker’s collaborations »» Conceptual artists in the 60s and 70s »» The generation after Abstract Expressionism »» Richard Long wrote these poems »» Frank Stella’s dictum »» A massive, light filled Thomas Moran landscape »» Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash” »» Much like 2nd Life »» Piero Della Francesca drafted

15. STB’s diagrammatic qualities and the current fetish for the scientific diagram in architecture at large are not somehow outside of art-historical lineages. The look of the diagram in the STB series, be it of weather, traffic patterns or finite element analysis, gives the drawings an air of objectivity, but they’re not without a gestural expressivity. 16. Here, the translation is from a digital-looking-object to a handmade drawing. I’m curious what the value-added is in this situation. What should we make of a digital aesthetic becoming handmade?

PETER JELITSCH, STB/S12/VAR00

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17. That a digital aesthetic is made by hand in both Perspective and STB will hopefully turn out to be much more than a fetish and is definitely a common thread between these two seemingly polemical images.

23. The mood of these drawings is more like a Philip Glass composition than early LeWitt. There is a certain structure that allows for a number of variations (very rigorous) but there is also curious push and pull between that structure and the mathematical sublime. “what you see is what you see” If you were to write a construction set for a Sol Lewitt drawing what you would see would be an algorithm. But then why is it so emotive…? I think this is where notions of the sublime come back in. Picturing the landscape of mathematics... or something. Art historians often avoid this conversation because the work is super intellectual, but it’s very present here.

ISSUES OF TRANSLATION IN DIGITAL AESTHETICS

22. The STB drawings aren’t asserting themselves as scientific drawings so much as borrowing the aesthetics of certain scientific fields. Historically, the artistic appropriation of the dia-gram is a technique that conceptual artists in the 60s and 70s employed in order to get out of romantic notions about drawing which suggest that visual forms can approximate inner states. The generation after Abstract Expressionism came down hard on these ideas (and Jungian notions of the soul) and they tried suppress individual expressionism by using deadpan diagrammatic techniques or otherwise de-authoring their drawings by way of automatic systems. While Peter’s drawings are significantly more “authored” than works by the generation I’m referring to, they still evince a desire to get away from the romance of the gesture. It’s a move towards the cerebral and away from the expressive. Where he lands on the spectrum is neither here nor there; it’s in the language he’s speaking. There’s something analytical about these that says that they are not meant to be read as expressions of psychological states.

12. The obvious architectural distinction between the two sets would probably have to do with the two dominant analogies in post-war academic discourse—the linguistic and the biological. I see McEwen’s set through the lens of Post Modern architecture’s exploration of vernacular semantics and the game of weaving cultural/historical references into facades. The STB series seems to belong to a biomorphic understanding of form generation. 13. The dark side of architecture’s love affair with the diagram has more to do with data visualization than descriptions of formal processes. In a very dumb sense, I would argue that the one convention is conducive to properly architectural propositions, while graphs and charts (in the manner of Edward Tufte) are more about convincing the viewer that some body of legitimizing, extra-architectural research has been amassed. It goes hand in hand with the pressure to represent our architectural ideas as something more scientifically than aesthetically motivated.

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ANNOTATION  2 / 3

PETER JELITSCH, STB/S12/VAR00

19. Perhaps this is another case of purposefully rendering a digital object in a physical material while preserving—even celebrating—the computational logics that it was originally built with. On the one hand triangulation is a fact of translating curved surfaces into economically and technically feasible material constructions. On the other hand, it’s an aesthetic related to mapping and old scientific illustrations of crystals and mineralogy.


ISSUES OF TRANSLATION IN DIGITAL AESTHETICS

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PETER JELITSCH, STB/S12/VAR00

PETER JELITSCH, STB/S12/VAR00

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ISSUES OF TRANSLATION IN DIGITAL AESTHETICS

20. The pairings in Lemm’s set are beautiful, but they aren’t meant to disturb you or to short circuit meaning the way The Pictures Generation used collage. This kind of practice is more structural—building relationships between two disparate things and thereby suggesting emergent meanings.

REFERENCES: »» The Pictures Generation »» Terry Winters’ notebook collages »» Alice Aycock’s drawings similarly suggest everyone was reading Levi-Strauss »» Joseph Campbell »» This is Lucy Lippard’s word »» Resurgence of Earth Art »» Turrell’s multiple retrospectives »» Michael Heizer re-appearing on the scene »» Piero Della Francesca drafted

[AG.] Lemm’s drawing, Fractalism, suggests a direct correlation between some cosmic organization and a scaled skyline. As extremely rhetorical images these kinds of prints always imply many relationships—perhaps this is a testament to David’s particular technique where he only needs to say a little in order to send us off in so many different directions.

DAVID LEMM, RITES

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21. These are kind of retro—they might belong to the art discourse of the 1970s when everyone was reading LeviStrauss and more popular figures like Joseph Campbell were trying to salvage the place of mythology in our increasingly technocratic culture. In the simplest sense, these figures were interested in “overlaying” (this is Lucy Lippard’s word) the language of ancient, mythological thought onto the contemporary landscape.

DAVID LEMM, RITES

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ANNOTATION  3 / 3

22. Historically, the artistic appropriation of the diagram is a technique that conceptual artists in the 60s and 70s employed in order to get out of romantic notions about drawing which suggest that visual forms can approximate inner states. The generation after Abstract Expressionism came down hard on these ideas (and Jungian notions of the soul) and they tried suppress individual expressionism by using deadpan diagrammatic techniques or otherwise de-authoring their drawings by way of automatic systems.


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DAVID LEMM, TITLE

DAVID LEMM, TITLE

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INTERVIEW  1 / 4

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AG. For the inaugural issue of Captions, TD has invited Hans Tursack to discuss the work of three drawings jointly selected from the Archive. We’re beginning with a drawing from Hugh McEwen’s set—to get us started, what’s your first impression?

ISSUES OF TRANSLATION IN DIGITAL AESTHETICS

that still feels impossibly weighed-down by the baggage of European easel painting. When I first saw Perspective, I thought it was colored pencil given its sharp edges and hard lines. Pastel is at its best when blended, but maybe it’s better to talk about my 4 first impression—I immediately thought of Michael Graves’ amazing elevations from the 70s and 80s. He drew in color because his elevations were about color; albeit artificial, surface coloration. Po Mo was all about imaging architecture and I think Perspective evinces an awareness of that history.

parks and a sense of the fantastic; we might be looking at a scene from Celebration, Florida. AG. Why does Utopian tend to mean fantastical? I don’t think that there is any reason they ought to be so nearly synonymous. The inability to construct such a non-place is beside the point—the utopias ought to influence reality. And while the fantastical utopia is one way to do this, it is only one rhetorical strategy among many. The title of this drawing claims a fairly banal scene: a perspectival view inside one part of a larger design proposal, as if the author wanted to show what the project would be like there. But, this is only in reference to the title; and, without it, the drawing carries more weight. Given the difference between drawings that describe a project—that come after the project has been designed—and drawings that design a project or help to flesh-out during the design process, where does Perspective fall?

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INTERVIEW  1 / 4

HT. Architects are usually so afraid of color, and The Ayles bury Town Hall: Perspective study of Canteen and Entrance to Records Department has gone full “yellow submarine.” It 1 speaks less to a predetermined color scheme than to an improvised celebration of the spectrum: the kind of 60s psychedelic sensibility you find in Pop painting (Lichtenstein, Rosenquist, Hamilton) or the 80s Neo-Geo crowd (Peter AG. “Imaging” architecture is definitely something we’re Halley or Jeff Koons’ recent paintings). The unfiltered qual- going to have to come back to, following my previous comity of Perspective’s color range makes it read like a dissoments about the visual and spatial dissonance reinforced nant collage, whereas Modernist color theory in the manner by using a medium that doesn’t lend itself to sharp edges 5 or fine points, Perspective also neither abandons a sense of Albers or Kandinsky was all about creating harmonies. It’s patterned sensibility and anything-goes color scheme of reality (shade and shadow are believable), nor does it also makes one think of the late, expansive perspectives follow it through. Flat color, a shaking hand, confusing spaHT. This drawing is working to flesh out the project. But to of Al Held. tial depth, and ambitious layering of volumes encroaching go back, there is a certain cynicism in the fantasy of this overhead—all suggest a greater interest in this drawing’s AG. How does this drawing’s dissonance, a sense of collage rhetorical focus. Unlike Graves’ elevations, there is nothing drawing and the use of computer-inspired graphic space. and an expansive, unfiltered color spectrum affect some in this particular drawing to suggest the author intends or 9 The image terminates in an ominous black doorway that’s proposed architecture? very 19th century macabre. And with its seeming lack of indesires to have this built. 2 For instance: I’m not sure that this is an accurate pertention to lead towards construction it has a cynical humor spective with a single horizon line or station point. If it isn’t, HT. I mentioned the Post-Modern allusions, but I think to it that acts more like a comment on Utopian schemes the underlying structure of the drawing would match up there is more to the fantastical utopian quality of space in than a proposal for one. well with the medium’s imprecision and even the color’s ex- Perspective. The exuberant patterns, technicolor palette, Perspective carries a reference to surrealism with the tremism. Even if the perspective is accurate, I think it’s safe perspective games, and stage-set quality of the architecopen plaza terminating in the house with the black doorway to say that this drawing isn’t interested in proportion or ture reminds me more of Nintendo 64/Playstation graphics that is evocative of De Chirico’s paintings of vacant space. measure—the scale of windows and doors in comparison to than Charles Moore. And then there is this purple, Henry Moore-like object in 10 the middle ground—I’m unsure what it’s doing there. Beother known and unknown objects are somewhat in flux. This would reinforce the irrelevance of a geometrically cer- AG. Where does this “fantastical utopian impulse” appear yond the surrealist tropes, Perspective also has food carts: in the the specific qualities and techniques of drawings? tain perspective. Maybe this is an important correlation prosaic additions to the scene that are all the stranger I tend to find that appeals to “Utopia” and this “stage-set between medium, a palpable dissonance, the irrelevance since, again, they appear indoors. 11 Paper architecture has historically had a curious relaquality” always exist together. of typical drawing techniques, and the relationship of surfaces in the architecture—curves, floor planes, and corritionship with Surrealism and Early Modernist abstraction. dors are interwoven and thwart a coherent understanding 7 HT. Well first, it evokes the utopian because of its urban I’ve always found it strange for example, that Cooper scale: it seems to be zooming into one moment of a broadof scale—spatial relationships, and if not the entire scene, [Union]’s program, under Hejduk, developed an entire er townscape. This seems evident not only because of the which parts of it are proposed and which are existing. pedagogy in the 1960s and 70s by looking at European ealayers of volumes or how it is cropped, but in the ambisel painting from the first half of the 20th Century. It’s esvalent relationship between indoors and outdoors. And so HT. Frankly, pastel is a weird choice. Few contemporary pecially strange when you consider all that was happening second there is the use of the ground plane—the expanartists (even painters) are experimenting with pastel. Fred in New York, and specifically in Lower Manhattan during sive grid that extends through a threshold into a building’s that time (right at the school’s doorstep). Koolhaas revisSandback made some brilliant works on paper with pastel enclosure, something which couldn’t or maybe just wouldn’t iting Dali in the 1970s was a similarly bizarre example of as studies for his installations, but they were minor works. happen if the project weren’t conceived as a larger whole For whatever reason the medium never shook it’s Impresan architect making a speculative project with hackneyed sionistic ties (I’m thinking of Neo-Impressionists like Wolf 8 and in a way that transgressed property boundaries. This painting references. 3 Kahn). Oil painting, graphite drawings, even gouache and indoor/outdoor ambiguity also evokes something of an watercolor have been re-invented several times over in the outdoor mall or a town square in a planned community. And past century. Pastel is one of the few mediums, like etching, then there are the lollipop colors that also evoke theme


INTERVIEW  2 / 4

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ISSUES OF TRANSLATION IN DIGITAL AESTHETICS

AG. Let’s move onto to another drawing and try to draw out some comparisons and parallels.

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INTERVIEW  2 / 4

staging randomness and open ended processes in compuAG. Jellitsch also built this model for an exhibition on ters. Pairing material and digital representational conBleeker Street. It speaks to our earlier conversation when ventions, or better, setting them against one another also you look at the photograph of the model from above. HT. Peter Jellitsch’s drawing set caught my eye when look- seems like a worthwhile project. Wade Guyton and Kelly ing through the Archive as another group of outliers. How- Walker’s collaborations take advantage of sketchy trans- 19 HT. It’s a beautiful object. I wonder what to make of the ever, moving from McEwen’s Perspective I’m wondering if triangulations. Perhaps this is another case of purposelations from Photoshop to canvas in productive ways. For the gulf might be too large to consider the STB drawing fully rendering a digital object in a physical material while architects, opening up the design-end of software seems 12 series as part of a coherent conversation. The obvious arpreserving—even celebrating—the computational logics like another way to approximate the freedom of material  chitectural distinction between the two sets would probathat it was originally built with. Stan Allen’s recent book experiments—anything to allow for errors, glitches and bly have to do with the two dominant analogies in post-war emergent images. Landform Building explores the aesthetics architectural 15 It’s worth pointing out that STB’s diagrammatic qualities, simulations of landscape. Curiously, there are a number of academic discourse—the linguistic and the biological. I see McEwen’s set through the lens of Post Modern archiprojects with similarly barque triangulated ground planes. and the current fetish for the scientific diagram in architecture’s exploration of vernacular semantics and the game tecture at large are not somehow outside of art-historical On the one hand triangulation is a fact of translating curof weaving cultural/historical references into facades. The lineages. The look of the diagram in the STB series, be it of ved surfaces into economically and technically feasible STB series seems to belong to a biomorphic understanding weather, traffic patterns or finite element analysis, gives material constructions. On the other hand, it’s an aestheof form generation. I’m certainly no expert on this history the drawings an air of objectivity, but they’re not without a tic related to mapping and old scientific illustrations of (or the crowd surrounding the early “paperless” studios at crystals and mineralogy. gestural expressivity. Columbia), but I sense a certain sympathy towards recent 16 Here, the translation is from a digital-looking object to a AG. How does David Lemm’s set fit into this context? pseudo-scientific conversations around figures like D’Arcy handmade drawing. I’m curious what the value-added is in Thompson; form as a diagram of forces and whatnot. this situation. What should we make of a digital aesthetic HT. I immediately associate these drawings with a history I’m interested in the way the drawings privilege a kind becoming handmade? 20 of collage practices. The pairings in Lemm’s set are beauof fetal stage - the figures seem to be frozen in a state of tiful, but they aren’t meant to disturb you or to short cirbecoming. Again, members of the Surrealist camp creep AG. Asking how a digital aesthetic is materialized touches cuit meaning the way The Pictures Generation used collage. into the conversation as do some Futurists; Yves Tanguy, on the topic of fabrication that monopolizes the conversaJoan Miro’s Lunar Bird series and Umberto Boccioni come tion of contemporary digital representation, but it opens up This kind of practice is more structural—building relationships between two disparate things and thereby suggesting to mind. the conversation from a very different vantage point. The emergent meanings. There was a show at Matthew Marks fabrication of designs is a baseline in architecture; techin New York last year of Terry Winters’ notebook collages AG. I can’t help but think its funny that today we can see nology is a means to our architectural ends, but isn’t itself that comes to mind. diagrams of arrows and think biomorphism, but maybe it architecture. We could have a whole conversation about the difference only speaks to a popular appropriation of scientific diaAnd so, particularly with such an interest being given to grams not just in architecture. form and is supposed capacities, discussing fabrication via between collaging two objects next to one another on a picture plane vs. overlaying images and using transparencies. the aesthetics it assumes (and gleefully carries forward) 13 HT. The dark side of architecture’s love affair with the dia But I don’t know what to make of the appropriation of meaopens up a line of criticism so far untouched. gram has more to do with data visualization than descripsuring conventions and scientific imagery. That was also a 17 HT. That a digital aesthetic is made by hand in both Pertions of formal processes. In a very dumb sense I would theme in the Winters show. Alice Aycock’s drawings simiargue that the one convention is conducive to proper arlarly suggest that science and mythology are not incongruspective and STB will hopefully turn out to be much more chitectural propositions, while graphs and charts (in the ous, just two separate systems… than a fetish and is definitely a common thread between manner of Edward Tufte) are more about convincing the these two seemingly polemical images. Perspective, as I AG. Lemm’s drawing, Fractalism, suggests a direct correlviewer that some body of legitimizing, extra-architectural mentioned before, appears more like the graphics from ation between some cosmic organization and a scaled skyresearch has been amassed. One of my studio professors Nintendo 64 or maybe 2nd Life; whereas STB could be a line. As extremely rhetorical images these kinds of prints pointed out that we generally make posters more than screenshot from a Rhino model. 18 The strongest quality of Perspective, is that it isn’t a always imply many relationships—perhaps this is a testadrawings in architecture school today. I can’t imagine a ment to David’s particular technique where he only needs more bureaucratized representational medium than the throwback and doesn’t wallow in historical references deto say a little in order to send us off in so many different poster, but it goes hand in hand with the pressure to respite its medium. However, the outside edge of the drawdirections all of which seem legitimate, or at least legitipresent our architectural ideas as something more sciening seems to say something like, “the drawing ends here, mate enough to continue talking about whether or not it’s tifically than aesthetically motivated. but you can imagine that it continues…” and for better or 14 I wouldn’t want to romanticize material-based repremeaningful. worse, this is something of a throwback. That edge aside, sentational techniques for their own sake, but I would both Perspective and STB are able to use their method of advocate any medium that makes room for the calculated drawing for the benefits they offer while jettisoning most 21 HT. These are kind of retro—they might belong to the art discourse of the 1970s when everyone was reading Leviambiguity that you find in drawings and certain modelof their baggage. It is important to play up what is useful Strauss and more popular figures like Joseph Campbell making processes. I’m optimistic about the possibility of and generative about a drawing method.


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were trying to salvage the place of mythology in our increasingly technocratic culture. In the simplest sense, these figures were interested “overlaying” (this is Lucy Lippard’s word) the language of ancient, mythological thought onto the contemporary landscape. There has been a strange resurgence of Earth Art in recent years with Turrell’s multiple retrospectives and the anticipation surrounding the opening of Roden Crater. Michael Heizer re-appearing on the scene with his massive LACMA installation was another surprise. AG. Let’s step back… Instead of interpreting Lemm’s drawings and discussing their potential meaning, let’s look at how they are specifically drawn and talk about how those techniques are relating these three drawing sets together. What is it about their varying techniques that is leading us into different modes of interpretation? Before moving back to Hugh’s historical context, let’s consider this about the pseudo-scientific in Peter’s drawings. There is probably not anything rigorously scientific about these drawings. 22 HT. The STB drawings aren’t asserting themselves as sci-

entific drawings so much as borrowing the aesthetics of certain scientific fields. AG. Do you think they are looking for “accuracy”; is it something of a contemporary zeitgeist that a nude figure wouldn’t provide.

ISSUES OF TRANSLATION IN DIGITAL AESTHETICS

AG. Richard Long wrote these poems during long walks 24 AG. Well that makes sense… Data crunching has the same both of which were based on very structured principles— incomprehensible terror as a massive, light-filled Thomas for instance, he might write down a single word per hour Moran landscape, except it’s completely internal, invisible, during a 24 hour walk. For one particular project he exhiand always accruing… bited a topographic map of 12 mountain peaks with the HT. Science fiction novels can brilliantly render those landwords “one hour” pasted over each summit. This implies scapes. I’m thinking of Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash” that he spent 12 hours on 12 peaks—it’s oddly structural —have you ever dorked out and read that? It’s amazing, and analytic in execution and representation, but at the Stephenson imagines a “metaverse” much like 2nd Life. same time very psychologically evocative. One can easiFigures move about in a massive landscape free from many ly imagine him sitting on a rock at each peak for an hour natural laws, but property is still bought and sold by the surrounded by all that space; meanwhile, you’re looking square foot. at a topographic map and the words “one hour.” HT. And, that’s definitely not outside of 19th century notions of the sublime.

AG. Well that’s a perfect segue back to McEwen’s drawings. Do you follow an element of the sublime back into Perspective?

AG. Jellitsch’s series, A Moment Described by 100 Arrows in 5 Variations, reminds me of Long’s projects. It is as if he 25 HT. I think it’s inevitable. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a “cold” perspective. walked through a door, said, “hmm, that was an interesting moment; I wonder what that moment would look like in AG. With his “direct method” of perspective, Piero Della the way that I draw things?” And then after he drew it he thought he’d try it again. But then, this analytic representa- Francesca drafted each of his figures rotating in space before he painted them. It’s exactly what NURBS modeling tion has five variations of the same moment. came out of, and the criticism of Piero’s paintings is that they are cold. HT. It looks like a nod to Sol Lewitt’s manual algorithms— 23 an instruction set, but you make a good point. The mood of This is a tangent, but it speaks to the “objectivity” of analytic drawing techniques and their relationship to perthese drawings is more like a Philip Glass composition spective and whether or not perspective is a method of picthan early LeWitt. There is a certain structure that allows turing that is so imbued with environmental concerns that for a number of variations (very rigorous) but there is it isn’t possible to make them purely objective. also curious push and pull between that structure and the mathematical sublime —a very real presence in much Con- 26 For instance, when you look at Peter’s drawing and you look at David’s drawing there isn’t the assumption that they ceptual and Minimal art. The rhetoric surrounding these movements was all about the end of metaphor, the process want you to know what it feels like to be there. Because there is no “there” in these drawings; they are primarily anof de-authoring and staging unmediated experiences of material things; Frank Stella’s dictum “what you see is what alytical.26 However, I would guess that Piero’s drawings are in actuality far more analytical that either Peter’s or Dayou see” is the epitome of this attitude. vid’s drawings. If you were to write a construction set for a Sol Lewitt But I cut you off. We were about the talk about Hugh’s drawing what you would see would be an algorithm. But drawings relationship to the sublime. I was struck by the then why is it so emotive…? I think this is where notions of the sublime come back in. Picturing the landscape of math- endless perspective you described in Snow Crash. ematics... or something. Art historians often avoid this con27 HT. It’s sublime. It’s also banal. Snow Crash, written in versation because the work is super intellectual, but it’s 28 the early 90’s, is uncannily similar to 2nd Life. There’s junk very present here. everywhere—the novel revels in the capitalist trash bin of The relationship between Conceptual Art, Minimalism, cyber space. Ads all over the place. Your visual field is comSerial Art and the sublime spaces of science fiction is an pletely saturated with signage. undercooked narrative. His vision of the real-world LA in the near future is like a But to come back to Philip Glass for a moment, I brought horrible theme park on steroids. Reading it I often thought him up as an example of someone working with systems of Benjamin Edwards and Julie Mehretu’s work; two contemand rigorous compositional structures who nevertheless porary painters interested in putting an image to invisible makes very emotional work, even movie scores. flows of information and capital and the infrastructure that CAP.01

INTERVIEW  3 / 4

HT. Well, historically the artistic appropriation of the diagram is a technique that conceptual artists in the 60s and 70s employed in order to get out of romantic notions about drawing which suggest that visual forms can approximate inner states. In psychoanalytic terms, there was this idea that the drawing could act as some sort of vessel for expressions of the unconscious. The generation after Abstract Expressionism came down hard on these ideas (and Jungian notions of the soul) and they tried suppress individual expressionism by using deadpan diagrammatic techniques or otherwise de-authoring their drawings by way of automatic systems. While Peter’s drawings are significantly more “authored” than works by the generation I’m referring to, they still evince a desire to get away from the romance of the gesture. It’s a move towards the cerebral and away from the expressive. Where he lands on the spectrum is neither here nor there; it’s in the language he’s speaking. There’s something analytical about these that says that they are not meant to be read as expressions of psychological states.

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INTERVIEW  4 / 4

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facilitates that movement. McEwen’s drawings are definitely channeling a similar space. I find it a little depressing. AG. Depressing in that he might be suggesting that this should be real and we should build urban spaces like this? 29 HT. Depressing in its anything goes collage mentality. I for-

ISSUES OF TRANSLATION IN DIGITAL AESTHETICS

cess of translation. In this way, errors, shortcomings in tech- ford) would be worth discussing. My personal view is that nique and misreadings might produce something beyond architects interested in fabricating with digital tools genhis original model. Similarly, with David’s drawings, when erally undervalue certain stages in the process where the you run an image through a printing process (silkscreening material exercise feeds back into the digital model; as in his case), the material translation will mediate the drawthough the sanded, primed and immaculately finished 3Ding in a way you don’t necessarily expect—you’ll get ranprint was more or less always the endgame of the process. dom splotches of color, misregistrations, the image may West Coast Minimalists used to be accused of a similar fade; in etching you can run “ghost prints” with the ink left “finish fetish.” 33 I think a strength of the drawings we’ve been discusson the plate after one press. Peter is thus experimenting with himself as a kind print- ing is their different approaches to process as something ing process (maybe), running the 3d model back through open-ended; the physical, the digital and the cultural and his hand and eye. historical talking back to one another. When a viewer is invited to participate in the conversation as another comAG. And what about Hugh and his translation from a Sketch- ponent of the process, then you really have something. up model to a hand rendered perspective?

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INTERVIEW  4 / 4

got who said it, but someone noted that Colin Rowe’s Collage City essay was really more of an apology for the way things are and not a suggestion of how things could be or a radically new way of looking at urbanism. Rather than difference and surprise and the pleasure of juxtaposition, visionary collage urbanists like Edwards see the future city as more Toll Brothers and KPF. The details in McEwen’s drawings make the point—you find porta potties, food carts, guardrails, metal detectors, 31 HT. McEwen’s drawings strike me as more self conscious in and too many competing patterns and colors. It’s all the infrastructure of a theme park or a shopping mall, but with terms of their medium and the fabric of historical referennone of the people. Programmatically his spaces seem gear- ces they weave. Sketchup, in this case, is probably more of a drafting aid. He could have just as easily made a physical ed towards passive entertainment. As with most theme parks, the space looks, at first, like a really exciting montage maquette to figure the space. I would guess that in the STB series, the artist is intenof fantasies and desires, but you soon realize that there’s tionally looking for errors or possibilities that emerge in his only one way to experience them and that’s passively. None process. Some teachers say “don’t draw it unless you see of these spaces seem particularly conducive to different it” and others suggest drawing as a means of “finding out.” kinds of experiences. The STB series has a Pontormo-ish quality of being unfinAG. So much excess that whatever you do in that place it ished—as though the debris and construction lines might would be absorbed into the background lead to the next drawing. I should be careful though, this is a lot of speculation HT. There’s definitely something eerie about McEwen’s en- about process. tertainment city. It’s not dystopian enough though. Where are the drones? The patterns are pretty unsettling. They AG. What I find so fascinating here—again touching back seem detached even from the surfaces of the built environ- on fabrication—is that this foregrounds the connection ment; like they were projected onto the architecture. If you between the digital and the physical world, which is a veever had a Nintendo 64 you might remember the environ- 32 ry contemporary and very real problem. Computers offer ments from Extreme G. us a number of design and imaging possibilities, but the problem is always how to get it back into physical space. AG. The common line we’ve drawn is that drafters have ta- And oddly enough, these very practical concerns of transken digital aesthetics and drawn them by hand. This seems lation—that seem to be a fundamentally architectural to be a relatively recent phenomenon in architectural draw- issue—bring aesthetics back into the foreground of the ing. The only reason to re-draw an existing drawing with conversation. another method is that you believe something will be added in the process of, in this case, taking the digital and passing HT. The fabrication movement is a curious sub-genre in it back through your hands. I love the details of Jellitsch’s contemporary architecture. It participates in histories of drawings where he shows all of the arrows running into one sculpture and installation (and lends itself especially to cusanother in the folds to the point that they become illegible. tom facade design) but I think most in the art world would But, is this just fetish? see such constructions as outsider-sculpture; somehow lacking the criticality and historical awareness art students HT. No, Jellitsch is treating himself as a mediating device. are supposed to posses. Whether this is a legitimate charHe might have a subject represented in a computer, and acterization of the movement (I’m thinking of practices like 30 then he runs it through his eye and hand as another pro Aranda Lasch or figures like Marc Fornes or Brandon Clif-

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Captions 01  

A critical review of my work published by The Draftery as the first in a series of essays on the creation of architectural drawings

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