architecture, technique and representation


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introduction to the series VII s a d sstrow introduction practice vs. project XI%% essays drawings 1 constructing with lines: I on projection 2 mapping the unmappable: on notation 3 31 plotting traces: on process 47 .

pggenheim museum 6 87 le corbusier and modernist movemen& the carpenter center for the visual arts 103 media 7 ex novo: architecture and photography 8 123 terminal velocities: the computer in the design studio 145 postscript representation as articdation 163 bemeen theory and pradice notes 179 image credits 200 .buildings 4 miessstheater of effects: the new national gallery 5 71 the guggenheim refiwred: the solomon r.

and the "experimental" position that would locate architectural practice exclusively on the more slippery ground of representation. But these attempts to pin down representation always artificially fix the fluidity of drawing practice. are expressed in their most direct form through notation. resides in the design rather than in the realized building. set down once and for all in the abstract geometries of the drawing. In this view.mapping the anmappable on n o t a t i a n autographic vs. allographic practices IN BOTH RECENT AND MORE DISTANT HIS- tory. and that the drawings are irrelevant once the work is constructed. Others have argued that only the realized work has meaning. disconnected from reality.' The architect's intentions. they argue. architecture can only be diminished by the exigencies of construction. share a notion of drawing as pure abstraction. The nominally conservative position that would look exclusively to the built work for affirmation of architecture's stability. cornpromised by the complexity of realization and the unpredictability of reality. . there have been those who clainm that the sense of a work of architecture. like music or poetry.

Many aspects of the experience of architecture can never be effectively simulated or predicted by representational drawing. The abstraction of notation is instrumental. But to think of drawings as pictures cannot account either for the instrumentality of architectural representatlor? nor for its capacity to render abstract ideas concrete..across scale). shifting atmospheres. texts or scripts. the movement of the spectator or the intricacies of peripheral vision. and trividizing the complexity of . a whole series of unpredictable and intangible effects can be produced: effects of light and shadow reflections. Its link to the reality it designates is complex and changeable. Drawings are. and unclassifiable. In the experience of the real. g. into the built artifact. it carries a mimetic trace. Archhectural drawings also work notationally. and not an end in itself. but rather their internal relationships are transposed: moved part by part into the new organizational contexte3 Each notational system articulates a specific interpretive community9a loosely bounded collective donain. A representattond drawing that tries to simulate those effects will always fall short. according to a series of shared consentions. They work by means of transpositionrather than tmnslatisn. Itis rather a set of i~bstructions realizing another artifact. The drawing as artifact is unimportant. diminishing. and can be compared to musical scores. That is to say> notational diagrams are pot ""decoded" according to linguistic conventions. As a thing in the world. An architectural drawing is an assemblage of spatial and material notations that can be decoded. and of drawing as the realm of ephemeral effects. but they are not universal. The limits of architectural drawing map out a paradox: we tend to think of building as the realm of tangible proof. freezing.e"i. A consideration of drawing as notation also directs attention toward all of the intangible properties of the real that cannot be set down in graphic form.I would argue instead that architectural drawing is in some basic way impure. in order to effect a transformatiol~ reality at a distance of from the author. a representation~al shadow? is transposed (spatialiljr. scaled-down pictures of buildings. Like traditional painting and sculpture. to some degree.t-he products of notation do not necessarily resemble the notation itself. architecture will always produce effects beyond those captured in its initial graphic descriptions. Notationas are "abstract machines" capable of producing new configurations out of g k n rnaterialse2 They work across gaps of time and space. for Notations are nsecessarily reductive and abstract. Yet buildings are much less subject to control than drawings.

In Goodman's account.. 1959. is better able to anticipate the complexity and unpredictability of the real. He calls autographic those arts. Paradoxicall~i. and Canadian Agent for Universal Edition (London) Ltd. like painting and sculpture. poetry or theater. Philosopher Nelson Goodman has proposed a theoretical context within which this question can be given a more rigorous f~rrumulation. In the passage f.~ his extensive In discussion of the question of notation. the real and the virtual will dways be present im in some unpredictable mixture. Uographic arts are those capable of being reproduced at a distance from the author by means of natation. the which makes no attempt to approach reality through resemblance. he calls alla- graphic. London. sole U. This is the realm of building that can only be addressed through notation. the realized building. on the other hand. O Universal Edition (London) Ltd. Zyklus.Excerpt from &line pubfished score. counts as an authentic inslance for . London 1960 O renewed All rights reserved Used by permission of European American Music Distributors Corporation. Franz Joseph Ha)rdn9sLandan Symphouy> example. dry. every performance of a musical composition.S. where the work exists in many copies and can be produced without the direct intervention of the author. and which connects architecture to the most abstract arts: poetry and music. unen-iotionai form of notation. that depend for their authenticity upon the direct contact of the author. the concept of autbenn ticity is described differently-These arts. Goodman disting~aishesbroadly between two types of art forms.M A P P I N G T H E IINMAPPABLE: O N N O T A T I O N (33) ICarkehz Stocfiausen. T music. despite different circumstances sf performance. changes in interpretation or instrumentation..drawing to building.

Mlograpkic arts do not imitate or reproduce something already existing. the abstract schemas of representation precede the tangible form of the work. is not concerned with imitating realitya7The architectural plan and the musical score both describe yet-to-be-realized works. the built work of architecture is durable and physicalf-ypresent. And as a thing in the wrorld. The use of notation is the defining characteristic of the allographic arts: "an art seems to be Functionally. imagined by means of notation.(34) DRAWINGS of that work. but the internal structure of the work as set down in the score. The guarantee of that authenticity is not the (now obviously impossible) contact with the original authol. By these criteria. and a measurement in numerals is a script. This paraQoxGoodman's ""curious mixtures-is fundamental to any discussion of architectural representation: how to understand a system that is atonce highly abstract and self-referential. allographic allographicjust insofar as it is amenable to notationmn5 arts depend upon notational practices as a consequence of the ephemerality of the work itself (poetry. In these artforms. They are subject to changing standards of performance. The specifications are written in ordinary discursive verbal and numerical language. or the need to coordinate an intricate collaborative structure (dance. Mlographic arts operate through interpretation and on the basis of convention. But unlike these ephemeral art forms. or lxusic).like m s i c or dance. and Goodman says as muck: 'The architect's papers are a curious mixture. the meaning s f a building is even more definitivelydisconnected from its author (and hence subject to the shifting contingencies of the real) than the work sf a choreographer or musician. they produce new realities. Can Goodman's narrow description of notational systems be extended to encompass architecture's more complex situation? Having cded attention to the mixed character of architecturalrepresentation in general. Goodman goes on to stress the notational character of architecturd glans specifically: "Thus dthough drawing ofien counts as sketch. or symphonic music for example). a scalar analog similar to a painter's . and at the same time has as its goal instrumental transformations of existing reality. it is obvious that architecture is neither dearly allographic or autographic. the particular selection of dr in an architectural plan counts as a digital diagram and as a Rather than understand the plan as a reduced picture.The renderings made to convey the appearance of the finished building are ~ketchesl'~ Architecture. both score and plan vanish in the realized work.

it is also possible to point to the direct involvement of the architect in the process of construction as in some way analogous to the activity of the painter or sculptor. and how does the . sketch. . The end product of architecture. is not ephemeral.muww(LAXI 1 0 s -LES INIL u u m LOS AMSELES #NIL (LAX) 1 4 SW-2. h a I & ~ r h D m& end n & d will BB wm mkr~r~ b w q p l M 0 6 CW b &an "(IDEND CLEARED FOR MAK%06:VISUAiffUNVIAY 23 LEFVRIGHTAPPPIOACK" *& I 147 J SWP. and the notational language was developed in response rather to the need for participation of illally hands in construction . How does the concreteness of reality temper the abstraction of drawing. architecture is a mixed and transitional To elaborate the consequences of architecture's mixed status requires looking more closely at the interaction of the built and the drawn. US Terminal Procedures. Arts ia e SCliULPICMI IE45S16 . 1997. Drawings become notations-diagrams-precisely at the moment at which numerical and textual information is added to the exclusivelyvisual. Further. unlike that of music. "is not always as surely disengaged from a particular building as is a work of milsic from a particular p erformance.22 MAY 1997 - I d Airport Approach plates. . S ANGEES TOWS8 O VR*Bn n n u1 fo Kunw(1ys 25UB 01sM p q i a r r . insofar as its notational language has not yet acquired full authority to divorce the identity of the work in all cases from particular production." Goodman writes. But the analogy breaks down when the individual work of architecture is considered. "'The work of architecture. &%at Goodman calls the "compliance class" in architecture is traditionally a unique building. 22 MAY 1837 CATEGOBY JU IS-SPECIAL AIRCREW & AIRCPAL4nCEBIIFlCATtON REQUIRED 3?-srr iie4'W &$"h%RzCndui LDS * W P S ZAL!LOR VISUAL R W %SUR~Y7N-1'614w mms.M A P P I N G THE UNMAPPABLE: O N NOTATION (35) Ae'96gp HARBOR VISUAL R W LCS A M X L E S I M L (LAX) 25hlRblrz37 FAAJ -L- 0 .Goodman emphasizes that architecturalplans function as notation to the extent that they combine graphic information with measurements and specifications.

But technique is never neutral. the city ceases to be readable. obscure. baseless. meaningless deceptions themselves.abstraction of architecture's instruments leave its mark on reality! kcbitecturd drawings are neither an end in themselves (artifacts. the illegible citylo 'The problem of architecture and the contemporary city is dso in part a problem of representation. and marking the inadequacy of the image as a descriptive mechanism. and to engage the shifting field of the contemporary city. Bellow's descriptio~~s of New Vork or Chicago retain 'heaeang. like paintings). It is this continual shuttle between the abstraction of architecture's graphic instruments and the uqielding concreteness of the building that defines tbe work of the architect. . Marcus quotes Pynchsn to the effect that ""I order to see the contemporary urban svorld dearly ." The text of the city-from the language of its hkabitants to the space of the street-can no longer be read in any coherent or predictable manner. it has lost the signifying potencies and structural coherences that it once seemed to possess. The architectural drawing is transitive in nature. and the m a n s of representation always leave a trace on the construction. He contrasts the description of the modern city as found in novels by Thomas Ppchon and Saul Bellow. impressivenessand coherence. Marcus writes. as the city grows more complex. architecturaldraliings are marked by their contact with a messy and kconsistent reality. we must be able to see past 'the fiction of continuiq. "Lhe fiction of humal~ized history endowed with 'reason': The structural categories are. Like Dickens of rendering the complexities of nineteenth-century London." critic Steven Marcus refers to the long literary history of urban description. Far from being ideal constructions. mystified-and most efforts of . "'has gone out of controI . The modern city. and makes it possible for architecture to work within the complexity of the real. resulting from the substitution of the intangible for the tangible. In ''Reading the Illegible: Some Modern Representations of Urban Experience. Representations is not something added onto building. uniquely capable of producing something new from something else. the fiction of cause and effect. but that which makes it possible in the first place. The d o l e has become again destabilized. nor are tl~ey simply transparent tecl~nical instruments. . the novelist is still able to give a coheren"~ccount the incoherent city." But in the Inore recent fiction of Ppchonz. Traditionally. . in these words.

M A P P I N G THE UNMAPPABLE: O N NOTATION (37) PHanimetric diagrams s the architectuiral elements inserted into G. information exchange. have produced a condition in which the urban site is no longer simply geographic. h d if the advent of mass communication and information technology has undermined the idea of the city as the place of arcl-nitectaardpermanence. is being progressively erased with the exchange sf information. from the first world to the third world.B. 1987'. the architecture of the city embodied collective memory through a structure of finite defil-nition. The Sphere and the Labyrinth. The local. ulsderstandhg or constructing a whole are themselves part of a n1ystification. All cities today are instantaneously connected as part of vast networks. along with the economies of multinational capitalism and global commodity exchange. from Manfredo Tafuri. howledge and technique. Piranesi9s f Campo Marzio. in which images. data and money flow freely. Today the technologies of communication. the social value of memory itself has been eroded by the series of catastrophic political events that have marked the mentieth century. close correspondence was maintained A between the city as a tangible site on the Iandscape and a series of representations based on a iixed point of view and static conventions sf representation. The technolorn of war has further undermined the residual notion of the city as a protective enclosure. and wan."l1 Historically. physical difference of cities. The fracturing and disintegration of the city that .

"14Architects seem condemned to work on the surface of the city and not its structure.12 As Paul Virilio has pointed out. Full cent 418 cent 1/4 ccet Y cmt 8 112 cent 5/8 cent 3 4 cent ?B cent Chicago Board of Trade. This is a situation that is histoncdly determined and rml&ely to change significantlyas a result of anything that the architectural profession does. nor by a succession of streets and avenues.Fracuens of a Cent Here are the values assigned tes the hand signals used by waders at the Ghieags Board sf Trade. If architecturehas lost its historic capacityto fix and determine the limits of urban space and territory. From now on architecture must deal with the advent of a 'technological space-time?"3 One consequence of this has been the marginalization of the discipline of architecture itself. are architects left to work exclusivelywith images? Or is it possible to accept the reality of this new condition. and to creatively reinvent the tools of lche discipline in order to meet these new chauenges? . communic&ion and speed. by a ritual of processions and parades. Hand signals for trading. But it can also be argued that architects have yet t examine the consequences of o . Bs the only means of defense. dispersion has become the primary tenet of an antiurban ideology a u s ing further erosion in the public realrn. "the representationofthe contemporary city is no longer determined by a ceremonial opening of gates. Michel Foucault has noted that "kchitects are not the engineers or technicians of the three great variables: territory. this shift. began with the perfedion of baUistics and the development of roads and railways i the nineteenth century has been greatly accelerated by the defense requiren ments of the nuclear age and its supporting technologies.

fameson's call for new "cognitive maps" and his reference to the studies of Kevin Lynch on the image of the city are suggestive.15 But today the artifacts. are uninteresting in themselves. the uncontroll&le proliferation of "'depthless" images. the splintering of perspectives. In order to map this unmappable territory. the new machines. or the dynamo acquired ideological value as icons of modernity. tehnology was represented in sypnbolic form. the conventions of representation itself need to be rethought-If architecture is to work beyond the level of image it needs to invent . The mean liner.M A P P I N G THE UNMAPPABLE: O N NOTATION (39) Andy Warhol. More important for the city are the effects of technology: the atomization of information. New urban phenomena-so called "edge cities: or "'generic cities9)are the consequence of technological and social changes but they reflect those changes only in the most indirect and mediated form. In the rhetoric of tl-re early modern movement. 1962. "rrt the most significant new eEects in the city are not registered as images. Dance Diagram. the airplane. Frederic farneson has remarked that contemporary technology does not lend itself to iconic representation.

architecture needs to address the social and political implications of the shift from artifact to effect. mobile points of view$ and multiple programs. capital and subjects interact in complex formations.shifting scales. to begin to use sota at ion's capacities not only to take the measure of the already existing complexity of the new urban field. Even the most conventional architects work notationally to some degree. on shifting coordinates and even of differing linguistic codes. and time on specifically architectural terms.(40) DRAWINGS new tools to work more efkctively within the immaterial networks and systems that comprise the city in the late taarentieth century. to work simultaneously with the abstract and the concrete. event. New mags and diagrams might begin to suggest new ways of working with the complex dynamics of the contemporary city. some measure of control may have to be relinquished. But the contemporary city is not reducible to an artifact. In order to describe or to intervene in this new field architects need representational techniques that engage time and change. Traditional representations presume stable objects and fixed subjects. In order to sustain its own relevance. . music and performance. Hence a pragmatic program is outlined here: to radicalize the already present and highly specific capacity of architectural drawings to work on reality from a distance. The city today is a place where visible and invisible streams of information. The script allows the designer to engage program. To further open architectural representation to the score. the diagram and the script could establish a basis for exchange with other disciplines such as film. To propose a new attentiveness to notation in architectural representation is not to propose another paradigm shift-a working for another-but simple substitution of one way of rather a proposal to enlarge the catalogue of tech- niques available to the architect working in the city. devoted to affirmative change rather than commentary or critique. a network of Rows. to be highly specific in a material sense and at the same time to engage the invisible or to activate the virtual. In order to map this conxplexity. but also to develop strategies to intervene productively in the city today with proposals that are open and optimistic.16 The score allows for the simultaneous presentation and interplay of information in diverse scales. the map. They form a dispersed field.

glossary: working definitions aatf cfpation Notations always describe a work that is yet to be realized Even if already performed. These "critical" practices utilize notation's discursive capacities only in retrospect (pointing out what is wrong with existing reality). In this sense. notation is optimis"nc and anticipatory. whereas notalies tion's more radical possibilil->r in the possibility of proposing alternative realities. Notation's special properties can be exploitedby the urban designer to produce a kind of "'directed indeterminacy": proposals that are robust and specific enough to sustain change over time. notations do not map or represent already existing objects or systems but anticipate new organizations and specify yet to be realized relationships.M A P P I N G T H E UNMAPPABLE: O N NOTATION (41) Thomas Eakins. critique or commentary. Pole Vault> 1885. the work it describes is open to interpretation and change in the course of future performance. cC. Unlike dassicaf theories of mimeses. yet open enough to support multiple interpretations. . Notation is not about interrogation.

yet nonreductive abstraction. Interval. heat. acceleration and accumulation are the key variables in a notational schema. and social space. As a model for operating in the c i the collective character of notation is highly suggestive. instantaneousness-dissolves the city. eolle&lve Notations presume a social context.the special capacity of notation to make thematic the measurement and unfolding of time takes on a special importance. If we allow> along with Paul Virilio. duration. . that the life of the city and its experience today belongs more to time than to space ('Now speed-ubiqui~. It works instrumentally to coordinate the actions sf multiple performers who collectively produce the work as event. in time. In as much as the use of notation signals a shift away from the object and toward the syntactic it might open up the possibility of a rigorous. and transparency. as they specify internal structure and relationships among the parts.from the production ofspace to the performance ofspace."17). and in a digital system the char- .is discontinuous throughout. Notations are not pictures or icons. The score is not a work itself. A score cannot be a private language. sound. but rather to return to a precise definition of the digital: "A digital scheme . dance. This includes the phenomenological effects of light. The use of notation marks a shift. time Notatiof. It is not accidentd that notations figure most significantly in the arts that unifold in time: music. and shared conventions of interpretation. smell. shadow. but a set of instructions for performing a work. event. but also-and perhaps more significandy-program. The use of notation marks a shift from demarcated object to extended field. or cold. notations could function to map the complex and hdeterminate theater of everydaylife in the city. To say this is not to suggest any specific relation to cornputer technology.invisible Ntations go beyond the visible to engage the invisible aspects ofarchitecture. or rather displaces it. digital diagrams Notations work digitallj. They do not so much describe or represent specific objects. or theater.zsinclude time as a variable.. ~ Going beyond transgression and cross-programming. and tempo.

Denis Diderot. 1'962-1777. Military Formations. . from The Encyclopedia.

turns not upon some loose notion of analogy or resemblance but upon the grounded technical requirements for a notational lanpagel9ls Some caution is necessary at the end. acters of such a scheme are one-to-one correlated with a compliance-classof a similar discsntinuous set-"Notationswork through digerence. the more strongly we are reminded that the significantdis"cnctionbetween the digital or notational a1-d the non-notational. Rather. Scoring the City. because we think of such diagrams as rather schematized pictures. a corresponding shift toward notation in architectural practice might follow. Fdly aware sf the dangers of mystification and false totalities. TOcite Goodman again. To appeal to nota"rond systems in urbanism is not to suggest a return to perfect transparency of meaning and the smooth implementation of functionality.these proposals do not set out to impose coherence on an otherwise incohere~st city. and if this shift is characterized by the replacement of the analog by the digital.not resemblance.DRAWINGS Stamn Allen and Marc Hacker. provoke unanticipated . "'The more we are startled by this. I986 (details). they propose an open-ended series of strategiesto use within the indeterminate field of the contemporary city-They propose new scenarios. or to regulate meaning or behavior. including the analog. If the new technoloa is understood as a shift from machines of production to machines of reproduction.

in a critical manner. These t m aspects are linked. but once that doubt has been registered. the impossibility of architecture ever approaching the fluidity and transparency of discursive languageS2O may well be that the "crisis of repreIt sentation" in the contemporary city is nothing more I"nman escalation of an already present conflict in representation-a deep. Theory acts to provoke doubt. Perhaps at this juncture it is important to insist that the problem of representation in architecture is always double. always present conflict in language and representation brought to crisis in the context of new technologies and urban conditions. the inside from the outside. It is important to distinguish carefully between the techniquesof representation-mapping. or notationand the idea that architecture itsevoperates as a representational system. a turn to the somewhat crude instrumentality of notation may in fact be reasonable. But architecture's response to that crisis. but are not identical.the challenge of the present is to make do with this corrupt and imperfect material. and on the other hand. but developed in practice. the system through representationsof instability-seems sentational-or One conclusion that we might legitimatelydraw from the deconstructionist project is that the dream of a perfect fit between object and its representation needs to be given up.As Jacques Derriaa has put it.MAPPING THE UNMAPPABLE: ON NOTATION (45) combinations and allow incremental adjustment over time. Accepting the impossibility of a diaphanous communication between architect and public. but according to a detour so complicated that it would undoubtedly disconcert anyone who wanted to distinguish. Doubt and indeterminacy may have to be accepted as the everyday working material of the architect. under the influence of deconstrudionist theory-which has been to register the instabiliv of inadequate. and Mario Gandelsonas have cogently remarked on the inevitability of architecture. not set down in advance. 198911997 . projection. the integral from the detachable:'19 Diana ~ g r e s . Mshatever coherence is attained is always a provisional stabaization of the mobile forces of the city. as a social system. and a great deal of confusion arises out of the faiiure to pay close attention to the difference. behaving to some degree like language. "In the architectural work the representation is not structurally repre- it is. They leave space for the tactical improvisation of the user in the field.

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