Couch Constructions - Drawings
Almost all children draw while very few adults do. Children are most often open to their environment, imaginative, uninhibited and creative. Their art is full of who they are and how they see and experience their world. Does the end of drawing mark the end of imagination or does the end of imagination mark the end of drawing? In the adult world, drawings are typically created with particular intentions, purposes and applications. For instance, technical drawings are created to be instructional tools rather than expressive, creative visualizations. Drawings are used as part of a preparatory exploration for the creation of paintings, sculptures, clothing and other media. Drawing is also its own discipline in which the drawing itself is the end objective. While computational tools and digital media have altered our notions of drawing, the idea of drawing persists. Edward Hill “attempts” to define drawing as centered on the participation in “The Language of Drawing” and sums it up as “drawing diagrams experience”. Hill asserts that the drawing is a method of transposition and solidification of the mind’s perceptions as it measures a portion of existence at a particular moment. The act of drawing is one of thinking in a physical activity. Rudolph Arnheim described artistic activity as “a form of reasoning in which perceiving and thinking are indivisibly intertwined.”
The digital production creates a barrier to the physicality and perceptive nature of drawing, however, the sense of drawing within a virtual environment remains through a kind of creative thinking process and the formalization of line, tone, and composition. While our virtual tools have tremendous value, there is a relationship to drawing but they are not a replacement for drawing. John Maeda defines true digital forms as “ephemeral-non-existent in the physical realm” and the computer as “a pure conceptual mass.” Our sense of perception is shifted and engagement of the physicality of our bodies moving in space gives form to materials with weight, texture, friction and characteristics that inform the creative thinking process which is discounted in a virtual space. People seem more visually oriented as they have their technological “sketchbooks” of personal cameras/video/audio recorders ever present with them and in use. Digital
images are affordable, communal, instant, transformable and universal; in comparison drawing is individual, laborious, fixed and coded. We believe we can’t afford to draw, we don’t know how to draw or why to draw.
Drawing as a unique mode of cognition seems like a vastly under appreciated and utilized tool. We might question how various methods of drawing might inform our thinking. We also face the missed opportunity to understand and utilize drawing as a unique tool for insight, creativity, understanding, communication, collaboration and innovation. The purpose and application of a drawing can change, shift, overlap, and transform over time. The fluidity of drawing highlights the ambiguity between intent and purpose and purpose and application. The ability to interpret a drawing transcends categories and distinction of type and character. The technical or instructive drawing can possess a visual poetic that celebrates and confounds the original intention or conventional categorization. The technical drawing sometimes is treated as a design drawing when it reveals an underlying elegance or clarity in the relationship to the
product and the process of creation. Reverse engineering from the technical drawing can be a design tool or even a generator.
In a collaborative drawing series, entitled “Pattern Series” I worked with fashion designers, Deb Christiansen, and Jane Matranga as collectively engaged thinking. The primary objective was to create layered transformations, a series of iterative drawings that might lead to new insights. A secondary objective was to transform or reveal design, expression and creative thinking using an instructional vocabulary. Drawing seems anachronistic in an age of data, interactivity and connectivity. However, as we also search for insights and innovation, many of our tools are being rediscovered, adapted, and re-purposed. We recognize that our loss of the capacity to make and manufacture things actually has compromised our innovative resources as well. Our disconnection with nature has fostered unsustainable practices and unhealthy lifestyles. The pattern series is now an open project for exploration. Drawing as its own subject matter can
only be an investigation or an attempt at discovery. It is not to celebrate or advocate a return to a lost art but rather to think about a larger context in which to explore a particular opportunity..
Drawing is embedded in a growing interest in design thinking as a trans-disciplinary approach to innovation and the addressing of complex societal issues. One of the ironies is that design thinking transcends the focus of design as the creation of products and physical things, while it is this ability to leverage material, matter and the physical into a cognitive tool that empowers design thinking. The medium, or what Arthur Koestler called the “Here and Now”, is not divisible from the “There and There” or what is being represented in the medium. In other words, how you think is what you think. The potential of design thinking and methods of sensory cognition come from how we shape a new “Then and There”. The new technology is increasingly less or no technology within a new context. It is not “state-of-the-art”
but “art-of-the-state”. Design thinking is also real-world, participatory, action-based research that deals with unique context. Hill defines drawing as participatory in a real-world context. The act of drawing is closely aligned with design and the key characteristics of participatory engagement. They both provide potent tools tools for addressing entrenched societal issues with human centered solutions.