My practice explores ways to describe the intangible and through this exploration, it proposes new methods of architectural representation and new ways of constructing and understanding the orthographic drawing. My critique of the world is that it doesn’t value the sensual dimension enough; this is a whole realm beyond the geometrical and optical possibility. It doesn’t deny these things but asserts that those things do not touch the full possibility.
But, the ‘intangible’ is a mystery. For certain, it has a different meaning for me than it has for you. My intangible is ‘energy’. This is an intangible substance or feeling, and it is certainly subjective. I have explored this notion of energy using different drawing media in performance-based haptic drawings. My media were pencil, light and air, and the surface for each drawing changed according to the drawing medium.
Haptic Drawing is a drawing method I began last school year and have continued to develop this year. These are performance-based drawings where often the whole body is used to draw at 1:1 scale. The drawings embody a dialogue between internal and external body movements, the space which the body occupies, and the limits of its reach.
These drawings seek to both cultivate and represent the energy experienced by the performer. After each drawing performance, there was a need for critical reflection on the visual representation of the energy I had felt. What was apparent in each drawing, and something I am now conditioned to look for in my work, are different intensities, densities and characteristics revealed in the drawings, which are directly related to the exertion of energy in each performance. Areas of intensity, or, intensities, are formed where the body and the manipulated surface fight to explore and to reach further, to maintain a posture or form, and to resist opposing forces which threaten stability. The intensities inform a space, in which others might also discover the same experience as the first performer.
My site for the architectural proposal is located adjacent to the Hauptbahnhof in Berlin and the huge Charite hospital campus.
‘Complementary Therapies’ is the programmatic concept for the architecture which offers alternative therapies for patients at the hospital.
I chose an area adjacent to my site and the canal, which overlooks the main train station, to perform a 1:1 haptic drawing. This records movements of the body and the limits of its reach, with conscious thoughts focused on the body and its movement across the surface. This type of haptic drawing allows the performer to warm-up physically and psychically, arriving on site fully present and with the ability to engage on many levels. The performance is a direct response to the site and its environment.
This drawing process, ‘See-Draw-Feel’, is an almost equal balance between the visual and the haptic; it allows a haptic experience of visual encounters through performative drawing. I believe that we live in a visually-focused world. Asserting that the subversion of the sense of sight allows one to realise other senses, I began testing a new drawing process, ‘Feel-Draw-See’, which is the reverse of See-Draw-Feel. These new drawings allow one to see through touch. The drawings are created by tracing the model with the left hand and drawing simultaneously onto paper with the right hand. The Feel-Draw-See drawing board invites the user to explore its models through the peephole and to draw the felt-experience with the other hand. This drawing board was my first attempt to stimulate senses other than the visual, because, there is often too much focus on the visual, without serious concern for the other traditional senses, let alone any sense or sensibility beyond the standard five.
The Feel-Draw-See drawing process, or rather, experience, allows the user to explore architecture through touch in the form of scaled models. Not forgetting that touch is in fact part of the tripartite haptic sense, it is not only a sensorial stimulation of the finger tips which occurs through use of the drawing device, but senses beyond this cutaneous touch. Intuition, feeling, discernment, realisation are some to name a few. This sparks a conversation about a sense of the world as a tactile realm even when you’re not touching it. This sense of tactile is not captive to touch – there is an ‘inner touch’. At the beginning, it was not known to me the extent of the journey – the journey being the feeling hand’s exploration of the models, and the drawing hand’s interpretation of that exploration. I became the mediator, and as such, other variables came into play: my endurance to keep the feeling hand’s arm raised, pressure and restriction from the peep-hole against my armpit and torso, and the time of the journey, affected by movement of the models. The haptic nature of the process is conveyed in the resulting drawings – my movement across the board, across the models, hesitation, definition, precision and uncertainty can all be found in these drawings. The first drawings to emerge from this piece were suggestive of the character of the spaces for the design proposal. It doesn’t have the clarity of a boundary, it doesn’t have the evenness of one sensation, it’s a world that goes from diffused, to intense, then disappears and reappears again.
The second drawing device is a table-top piece and maintains the separation between sight and touch. It has an arm rest for the feeling-arm which increases comfort and in turn the possible duration of the drawings. The structure of the device also plays the role of a tuning device, that is, the different forms allow the feeling-hand to practice, prepare and stimulate sensory motors for further exploration of the architectural models. When exploring the models on the feeling-side of the drawing device, it is possible to define and isolate characteristics of the ‘touch’ experience which the drawing-hand translates through different media. These characteristics are: form, texture, dynamics, feeling and mind.
The sensing drawing device is a design tool. Through the production of drawings which tease out and illustrate qualities of a space beyond its form, it is used to design spatial constructs. It encourages a cyclical design process, whereby models on the feeling-side inform the drawings on the drawing-side, which then inform changes to the models and also new models, which inform new drawings and so on. The more time I spend drawing with the sensing drawing device, the more aware I become of the characteristics of this experience. This heightened awareness allows me to draw with greater precision, defining line types and densities as characters which inform architectural space. The architectural proposal is a translation of these drawings. Here I defined several line characters which are generated by different materials forming parts of the models, and each character, or material, informs a programmatic space. I chose three characters to inform the spatial constructs for Complementary Therapies.
The spatial construct itself sits between two wings of an existing hospital building and provides spaces for patient-doctor consultations, yoga, meditation and changing facilities. The Consultation Rooms model derives from the chiffon silk line character. The Changing Rooms model derives from the latex line character. And, the Meditation Spaces model derives from the organza silk line character. Soft and hard materials used in the models inform very different drawings. Hard materials allow definition, certainty and focus. Whereas soft materials allow freedom of movement and mind beyond the parameters of the material. For the design of the spatial constructs, I first created one model for each type of space, informed by the associated line character, using hardwood to create definite forms. I then generated a series of drawings using the sensing drawing device, and from these began to define spatial arrangements according to hard and soft structures. These drawings and judgements translate into my architectural drawings, which are somewhere between the haptic, sensory drawings of the sensing drawing device and a standard orthographic drawing. These drawings propose new methods of constructing orthographic projections which capture the intangible, something which I believe traditional orthographic drawings are unable to achieve.
DRAWING ARCHITECTURE MODEL
PHOTOGRAM HAPTIC DRAWING SILK ORANGE CHIFFON
HAPTIC DRAWING BERLIN