Perplexing Artifacts: Towards a Fusion of Art and Architectural Creative Practice

Y MB MODOS 1676px 2 Daniel Ho
(Your) My Bedroom [Blue Pencil and Watercolour on 2100 x 1500mm Watercolour Paper]

This thesis is about fusing fine arts and architectural creative practice – two disciplines distanced by their approaches to representation between drawing, modelling, and building. Contemporary architects gravitate towards making methods that can prescribe both qualitative and quantitative information of an envisioned ‘final’ built form. Meanwhile, an artist may respond by looking for differentiating qualities between drawing and building. Finding qualities independent of representation, and articulating these differences, exposes and expands the unseen qualities of an architectural built form. In the context of this project, the mimetic nature of an unaltered translation between architectural visualisation and building is misdirection. We witness practitioners and academics within art and architecture, like Robin Evans, Ernst Gombrich, and Omar Fawzy, discuss the abilities and limitations of prescriptive representation within drawing and modelling. Evans, who operates between the two disciplines, suggests these prescriptive methods may benefit from embracing the expendable analytical nature of the artistic sketch. This thesis considers the idea that Post-Impressionist – and specifically Analytical Cubist – artists embraced these transformations and entertained the subjective critical commentary evoked only in the presence of the process artifact. Thus, this thesis exposes dimensions, like time and emotion, that many architects often think less about in their creative practices, yet are integral to understanding the details of occupation and architectural quality. How can applying and fusing architectural and artistic creative-making practices create critical conversation about their own disciplinary modes of drawing, modelling, and design? I inquire into the philosophy and product of selected areas of fine arts and architecture through two Series of drawing and modelling exercises. In developing my critical stance, I attempt to articulate and express, through installation design, a fused art-architectural creative practice that progresses towards a better understanding of their disciplinary conventions.

The concept work immerses in art and architectural drawing and modelling conventions. This work is segmented into two Series of exercises: 1A-C, and 2C-E, Series 2C onwards being a product of the tiled drawings produced in Series 1B. 1A-C investigates limitations in both artistic and architectural visual representation. Starting with ‘plein-air’ sketches of my hometown, Queenstown, New Zealand, represented qualities from this familiar place are translated, through tiling and 1:1 projection, into carved forms. Locations in Queenstown are transformed and isolated into dissociated 2D marks on paper and projected into cubic 3D forms. Series 2C-E develops this thesis’ understanding of what qualities can be sustained when translating between artifacts. Artifacts that, at a glance, can express an undeniable visual likeness to their original subject-matter. However, at the same time, each translation between 2D to 3D creates unforeseen qualities unique to each artifact. These changes are welcomed, as they utilise Series 1’s findings as a possibility for the ‘descriptive’ architectural drawing and making to adopt an artistically Expressionist function. Because of this, the making of this Series simultaneously expresses both representational and antirepresentational qualities; they are ‘(anti)representational’.



I continued sketching my hometown, narrowing down this thesis’ architectural context to my childhood Bedroom. A form of transient architectural violence became apparent in this space. The Bedroom’s architectural intent erodes away, being masked under occupational details and changing into an architectural expression that eludes apprehension. Investigating this, a single drawing emerged: (Your) My Bedroom. This drawing required an architectural space that frames, extends, and expresses the direct domestic condition being represented. In terms of building, two design qualities became significant in the Building brief:

-Cubist space and time: The Building aimed to allow the viewer to see the multiple moments of the architectural space around it.

-The Building aimed to be responsive to the viewer’s movement: The forms generated from the viewer moving around looking outside and inside the built form should appear to change.

The material selected to fulfil these criteria was Perspex/acrylic panels. As well as having a reflective surface, the material was transparent, allowing the viewer to see the space behind the panels. Multiple moments collapse together, expressing spatio-temporal qualities from Analytical Cubist painting in architectural space.


Finished Product

The outcome of this thesis is a three-component installation reifying an art-architectural expression for an uncontrollable domestic. Each component embodies, both separately and simultaneously, processes, products, and effects of architectural making:

- Drawing: (Your) My Bedroom – A 2100 x 1500mm site drawing, concept drawing, developed design drawing, and final design drawing, collapsed together into an Analytical Cubist composition. Its material qualities extend the ‘descriptive’ architectural drawing into becoming its own architectural form. Reading beyond its patterns, lines, and shades unravels a domesticable form that expresses the transient nature of occupying the domestic, in all its ego and emotion.

-Building: The Domestic Collapse – A Perspex installation built at a scale that relates to a human body. It is both an architectural translation of the spatial-temporal information collapsed in the drawing (Your) My Bedroom, as well as an extension of – as a viewing device towards and away from – its Blue Pencil marks on paper. When viewed through its bends, folds, apertures, nooks, and crevices, the Blue Drawing reflects and morphs its forms onto its Perspex planes.

-Projection: Tracing the Collapse – A Perspex model projected into photogrammetric imagery. Developing a means to translate building into drawing via recording the trace in pigmented line. The plan, section, elevation, axonometric, and perspective are defined beyond their Cartesian convention into a performative activity. The projected results are traced into drawings both measurable and open to interpretation.


Critic's Text

Perplexing Artifacts: Towards a Fusion of Art and Architectural Creative Practice is essentially a discovery research project that explores that muddy middle ground that exists between the practices of architectural drawing and art.

To create clear boundaries to the scope of work for such a wide study, all drawings are deliberately analogue, all drawings use the same media (blue pencil) and a specific era of western art has been studied. Through historical analysis of analytical cubism and the affects of then-current technology (the camera) on art thinking, parallels are drawn to contemporary methods of drawing and representation. Main sources are Ernst Gombrich and Robin Evans.

The thesis presents the three-part final project first (Drawing / Building / Projection), followed by the series of drawing experiments and explorations that led to the final installation.

The Drawing in the final presentation (Your) My Bedroom is revealed as an architectural drawing of several types: site drawing, concept drawing, design development drawing, and in-situ drawing. (Your) My Bedroom collapsed time and space in the manner of analytical cubism, becoming a document of the author’s bedroom located in Queenstown and therefore recorded at several times as a site measure and often from memory. This became the ‘blueprint’ for the Building component of the installation, The Domestic Collapse, a Perspex 1:1 viewing device for, and extension of, the drawing. To explore the production of measured drawings, and in respect of the main architectural drawing language of plans, sections and elevations, projections of the 1:10 Building model were traced for the third component. (Projection: Tracing the Collapse.) Questions about methods of description and prescription have been raised throughout these translations of the same spatial condition.

The second section examines a huge production of work through several series of representation experiments, each recorded and analysed. Findings from these series of works have informed the installation, and lead to a conclusion which finds possibilities for the author in process techniques for their future practice. The research focuses on architectural drawing types that are not representational or predetermined, but are instead self-referential, more common to art practice. Such drawings can be valuable to architectural design processes as a delaying strategy, allowing qualities in the design to be considered in a non-objective manner, and to strengthen the relationship between drawing and making, art thinking and architectural production.
-Lynda Simmons, supervisor