Likeness And The Marginal

When architects operate sketches they primarily perform as personal dialogue. Because sketches embody knowledge and belief they need not present a ' perfect' Ukeness. Architects believe in their sketches and how they communicate. Thus, the sketch may be abstracted or fragmented, but still provide a useful forum for exchange. This suggests a theory that abstracted sketches may be uniquely viewed by architects. Possibly, each image takes on a ' life of its own' , or becomes metaphysical as it reveals information only to the author. Kris and Kurz suggest magical belief by artists allowing an image to be removed from ' realistic' representation. They write: ' ... the "stronger" the belief in the magic function of the image, in the identity of picture and depicted, the less important the nature of that image' (Kris and Kurz, 1979: 77).

Most architects would find it difficult to state that they believe their sketches to be ' magical'. However, it may be easy for them to admit that sketches are often enchanting and provide unexpected results. The surprises might stem from a vague image that provides new ideas in association. Again, this study has returned to the key notion of likeness, and the role of resemblance:

... whenever a high degree of magic power is attributed to an object ... its resemblance to nature is rarely of decisive importance ... the closer the symbol (picture) stands to what is symbolized (depicted), the less is the outward resemblance: the further apart, the greater is the resemblance. (Kris and Kurz, 1979: 77—78)

Kris and Kurz offer an example of a myth from art history, in which an artist, when drawing the eyes on a dragon, found that the dragon flew away. They suggest from this myth that the artist who does not draw the eyes of a subject can '... prevent it from coming wholly to life' (1979: 83). This example also suggests the power of the artist over the image created. This concept recalls the previous architectural examples that avoided depicting a context. Stopping short of complete illusion possibly sustains the enchanting qualities of the image. Architects may avoid 'eyes' to keep the drawing from approaching the practical and definite. Its ' concreteness' does not allow for change, or the metaphor's dependent on Ukeness. The abstract image may become magical in its ability to play with imagination and support dialogue.

To reiterate, the words used to describe l ikeness are numerous; each assesses a slightly different meaning. The unifying feature is that of visual resemblance in imagery. Sketches furnish a mode for dialogue and communicating in the seeing world of architecture. A quote by D.G. James brings to light some of the intangible qualities of likeness for architectural sketches:

... what lies beyond the strictly observable, measurable and verifiable aspects of things? ... what are 'things in themselves'? ... [b]rought thus sharply to the boundaries of demonstrable, i.e. scientific,

1 When asked to provide some background on the digital sketches, Mark Foster Gage wrote to me about how they use these images in their office.

knowledge of the world, we are confronted by the illimitable, unplumbed world lying beyond the narrow scope of the discourse of science and the understandable, and in the face of this meta-sensual world, the world as it is in itself, the unknown being of things, we are left to wonder and surmise; it is from this wonder and surmise that philosophy and art alike take their origin: and it is at this point that metaphor and symbol come into operation. (James, 1960: 98)

Sketches evoke qualities of the marginal in that they are vague and intangible. Although most architects constantly utilize sketches, these sketches reside on the boundaries of things tangible, as they contain endless possibilities. Their vagueness invites projection, association, and interpretation. These qualities suggest their vacillation between things known and those that are unknown. As transitory elements they move easily between a text and its boundaries.

A definition of marginal implies an area that is part of a surface which lies immediately within its boundary, especially when in some way marked off or distinguished from the rest of the surface. A margin describes a condition that closely approximates to the limit below or beyond which something ceases to be possible or desirable. It accounts for unseen contingencies, and inhabits the edge of a text, often used for summary or commentary. Sketches may be compared to a marginal position in their incompleteness. They hover on the edge between being something and being unintelligible. Sketches with this vagueness might not have a clear objective or a clear interpretation.

Similar to play, which defies clearly defined boundaries, they may coincide with haphazard action. The marginal summons that which hovers on the edge, both literally and figuratively. This position connotes danger, revolution, pure possibility, fantasy, and irresponsibility. The concept of the marginal also suggests the doubtful, the unknown, and fearful living. i Living on the edge i is distinctly living in a state of the unknown, not within the lines of accepted behavior; it contains an element of risk. The edge may speak of likeness to an original, a tentative connection, and this connection may require knowledge of an intention to be comprehended. Sketches' irresponsibility exhibits their affinity for the poetic and ephemeral.

Historically, the margins of a book or manuscript present opportunities for notes or commentary. These edges may contain decorative illuminations or humorous visual arabesques meant especially for diversion. They have become comic relief for a serious and important document. Margins are abstract and pull away from the main text, possibly similar to being outside oneself. The margins in a book represent the tolerance for binding. They are the play when printing, so that the text is contained on a page. Similarly, with sketches, the image exists close to the border between reality and unreality. They might differ from the whole, but affect the placement and boundaries of the whole. A border graphically makes a text appealing, supporting and composing the framework within which the text may be read. An argument, dialectic, communication or conversation may act similarly. Without the uncertainty the dialogue is unnecessary.

The following two projects (Figures 6.5 and 6.6), from the realm of academia, reveal digital and analog hybrid explorations into the creative process. Professors Julio Bermudez of the University of Utah, Bennett Neiman of Texas Tech University, and Tim Castillo at the University the New Mexico challenge their students to combine various media to experiment with the i ... interface between analog and digital systems of architectural making and thinking.'2

The students use photography, hand sketching, scanned objects, analog model construction, and digital modeling to design spatial allusions. These hybrid sketches present space and form with intention but without conventional building programs. The projects can be labeled sketches as they lack qualities that translate into buildings. The images evoke a future architecture, but do not prescribe definitions for construction. They are fanciful and expressive alluding to conceptual notions

2 From studio materials and conference papers by Julio Bermudez and Bennett Neiman.

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