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ARCHITECTURE IS THE RESULT OF AN INFINITE MIRRORING OF TRANSLATIONS.

ARCHITECTURE IS THE RESULT OF AN INFINITE MIRRORING OF TRANSLATIONS.

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Published by Marco Frascari
a possible theory of drawing architecture
a possible theory of drawing architecture

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Published by: Marco Frascari on Apr 02, 2008
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09/06/2012

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A
RCHITECTURE IS THE RESULT OF AN INFINITEMIRRORING OF TRANSLATIONS
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B
 Y 
M
 ARCO
F
RASCARI
 14
FEB
1998
he mystery of architecture is all in the divinatory nature of the mirroringmetaphors that rule the acts of translation from the built to the drawn.The translations of buildings in drawings are back-telling phenomenaand the translations of drawings in buildings fore-telling phenomena. Thesemirror-like phenomena, a speculative chiasm, are the hypogean structure, onwhich the contemporary project of architecture must be erected. This projectrecognizes architecture as an authoritative trade with an intellectual traditionthat begins earlier than the Enlightenment.Architecture is the result of an infinite mirroring of translations. All the great buildings contain their virtual translation in a certain measure withinthemselves. The projection of an interpretative scheme on a drawing or a building is a constitutive act of the drawing or the building itself. To translate animage means to recognize or guess what has instituted it as image. This meansto institute an interpretation. A translation is the result between the univocallyof the interpretative scheme and the ambiguity of the image. The architect whois translating a building in a drawing or a drawing in a building proceedsalternating schemes and corrections. These translations are not abstractions butsteps of successive definitions. The architectural imagery embodied in the
T
 
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drawings, acts as the gelling of architectural expression, the beginning of thearchitectural dream.In the practice of architecture, the cleverest segment of the process by whichour constructed world comes about has always been the translation of drawingsin buildings and buildings in drawings. Unfortunately, nowadays, theseintriguing and desirable operations are wrongly concealed within the meandersof the back rooms set up by professional practices. Under the label of productiondrawing, this segment of the art of architecture has become a prosaic activity.This mundane and negative connotation originates within the educational realm.The students of architecture are led to consider the translation of building indrawings a frustrating procedure. They believe these drawings are anunnecessary disciplinary demand that merely delays the growth and the blooming of their individual design capabilities.Two different graphic procedures dominate the present condition of architecture. On the one hand, there are design drawings, on the other hand,construction drawings. The making of design drawings is considered as themost prestigious act of the profession: an artistic effort that carries a vision. Inthese drawings, a rhetoric based on a desire of imitation dominates the mode of production. The drawings are not rooted with a magic mimesis, but throughimitation, it is searched professional authority. The designer is not authoritative, but the selected subject of its imitation—i.e., the original hut, the style etc.—is.By congruity, the design drawings then become authoritative documents wherethe designer is the only identified autocratic author. Whereas, constructiondrawings, drafted by many hands, are considered merely safeguarding legaldocuments translating a design construct into prescriptions for construction.With this legal set of drawings, rhetoric of visual mono-directional translation isthe unacknowledged mode of production.The professors and the professionals of architecture regard this part of graphic version of constructive transactions as necessary, but indeed a dullcomponent of making architecture. A dreadful necessity to be left possibly to building management. It is a predicament of management to make the building
 
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looking like the drawings. Nevertheless, during the past, these graphictransactions, between designing and building, were the most poetic ones sincethey were based on a magical mimesis. In these drawings, the relationships, set between signs on paper and buildings, were not of efficient causality but of formal causality of knowledge.The real signs of proper construction drawings are magical signs. Thecomprehension of the difference between the desire of imitation and the magic of translation is the crucial means of access the use of drawings for dreaming up building. On the one hand, the ideal of imitation is that of an organic recreationfrom earlier texts or objects, in the sense of formal or substantive adoption. It isas in the look-alike contests. On the other hand, recognized as necessarilyrepetitive, translation aims to match form and substance in different means of expression. Translation is not imitation, but a magic conversion of images. Thedrawings developed for the construction of an edifice are a process of translation by which the facts of an architectural project become the reality of any building.Through an act of construction—a poetic translation, a magic mimesis—drawings are transfigured in buildings and buildings in drawings.The art of translation is the essential factor for understanding the tradition of production and reproduction in the western culture. Translation is a trade basedon tradition that can also be betrayed. Two puns, in Italian, can translate thisconcept in a form easy to remember, viz.,
traduttore = traditore
(translator = betrayer) and
traduzione = tradizione
(translation = tradition). In thearchitectural trade, the western tradition begins with the Greeks, who considered barbaric the languages and the architecture of other peoples and therefore theywhere not interested in translations. Nevertheless, in their concept of hermeneutics, there is the beginning of the concept of translation in architecture;Hermes is the god that translates for the humans the hermetic language spoken by the Olympic crowd. The etymology of the word
hermes
is uncertain but it belongs to a semantic family that indicates a deep insight of the unknown. Thestory of the invention of the Corinthian capital, as told by Vitruvius, gives us animportant clue for understanding the process of translation that took place in

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