Observationcompendium And Likeness

As stated earlier, and reinforced with examples in the various chapters, it is impossible to draw definitive conclusions concerning architectural sketches. Although sketches embody all that architects do, and thus are the medium for design, their fluctuating and intangible qualities enable ' possibilizing' activities. This study has presented a new view of architectural sketches, especially because little research has dealt with the theoretical issues beyond the 'how to' of sketching. Whether sketches are employed as a means to elicit initial inspiration or for assistance during the various stages of design, it is their revelatory nature that provides a deeper understanding beneath surface impressions. Sketches are both physical and intangible and, since they are also interpretive, they resist closure. Because their meanings undergo continual development, it is only possible to speculate about their shifting qualities.

This book has raised questions about architectural sketches, and has provided connections to known theories of play, caricature and the grotesque, but has avoided specific answers. The sketches themselves are compelling — they ask if there are limits to sketching, and what they may be. With this it is possible to question the nature of the dialogue between architects and their sketches. How can we better listen and learn from these sketches? What in them speaks to a thinking process? If all architects use sketches, why is it so difficult to define or explain them? To answer questions such as these might be to define architecture, or put limits on an ever changing, transforming, and expanding discipline. This may prove an impossible endeavor but, through studying sketches, a better understanding of their role emerges, thus proposing a better understanding of architecture itself.

Architectural sketches, like the process of architecture, reflect the past, facilitate the present and attempt to foretell the future. Their meaning remains personal and speaks to each individual architect. As with memory, imagination, fantasy and play, it is possible to examine their traits, but as entities they may remain elusive. This elusive quality exhibits strength not a weakness. As the term elusive refers to the concept of play, these playful allusions facilitate the ability to view more of sketches' meaning.

The inability to adequately define what sketches mean to each and every architect compels a speculation about their thoughts. With the conjecture concerning the nature of 'ikeness, concepts of imitation, copy, replica, similarity, resemblance, analogy, metaphor and allusion all have overlapping meanings. Each removes a dimension in abstraction. Not merely modes of imitation, various writers on aesthetics have assigned specific meaning to these words. Their meaning depends upon a relationship to an intentional concept. Visual likeness allows sketches to function for architects as communicative, imaginative, remembrance, discoveries and thinking devices.

Some contemporary definitions of words like imitation, copy and replica treat the object and its representation as almost identical in all dimensions. The Greek 's phrase for ' fine arts' was ' imitative arts' (Aristotle, 1951). In literature the term's use began with Plato, and was probably common in usage to distinguish between fine art and industrial production (Aristotle, 1951). In contrast to Plato 's notion of the real world as mere imitation, Aristotle held that: ' ... the artist may "imitate things as they ought to be" ' (Aristotle, 1951: 122). He used imitation to show another dimension of reality. 'A work of art is a likeness or reproduction of an original, and not a symbolic representation of it' (Aristotle, 1951: 124). His words impart the view of an imitation, not necessarily as an identical image but as an alteration of the original.

Umberto Eco writes that the images need only be similar to an original in order for their creator to gain knowledge and communicate ideas. 'A transformation does not suggest the idea of natural correspondence; it is rather the consequence of rules and artifice ... Similitude is produced and must be learned' (Eco, 1979: 200). Architects learn to view one thing as another, and thus make individual examples of similitude.

Although they are close in meaning, Michel Foucault finds a difference between 'similitude' and 'resemblance':

Resemblance has a 'model', an original element that orders and hierarchizes the increasingly less faithful copies that can be struck from it. Resemblance presupposes a primary reference that prescribes and classes. The similar develops in series that have neither beginning nor end, that can be followed in one direction as easily as in another, that obey no hierarchy, but propagate themselves from small differences among small differences. Resemblance serves representation, which rules over it; similitude serves repetition, which ranges across it. Resemblance predicates itself upon a model it must return to and reveal; similitude circulates the simulacrum as an indefinite a reversible relation of the similar to the similar. (Foucault, 1982: 44)

From this statement it would seem that caricature is more accurately described in terms of resemblance than similitude. Foucault 's words suggest the tautological aspects of similitude. Sketches act as metaphors because of their substitution (transference) qualities (Gombrich, 1963). A metaphor implies a reference and, likewise, both art and sketching refer to something beyond (Gombrich, 1963). It takes the associative qualities of imagination to bridge metaphorical meanings. D.G. James discusses metaphor in his article on metaphor and symbol:

Now metaphor, ... is one of the forms of symbol: it is the imagination of one thing in the form of another; it is the mode in which the nature, the being, the imagined extra-sensual essence of a thing, is represented by the identification with the apparently different; and it is a procedure for which science can give no warrant; the scientific use of language must abhor metaphor. But metaphor is the nerve or heart of all poetic creation. But still, metaphor is only the way in which the imagination works; it never adds up to a statement and doctrine. (James, 1960: 100)

In allusion, there is even less 'ikeness between a substitute and the original than with metaphor. Sketches act as substitutes in 'ikeness for a mental impression in the imagination. Standing for something else, the sketch is not a symbol but resides metaphorically in place of something else. Umberto Eco 's concepts of strong and weak codes are relevant here.

The universe of visual communications reminds us that we communicate both on the basis of strong codes (such as language) and indeed very strong ones (such as the Morse Code) and on the basis of weak codes, which are barely defined and continuously changing, and in which the free variants prevail over the pertinent features. (Eco, 1979: 214)

Sketches epitomize a ' weak code ' ; and thus they compare to allusion and metaphor. The treatment of minimal likeness is reminiscent of analogy or allegory. The word analogy comes from the Greek meaning equality in ratio or proportion. Its definition ranges from the equivalence or likeness of relations and resemblance of things with regard to some circumstances, or effects, to similarity (Oxford English Dictionary). The relative likeness may determine the comparison between two things.

An allegory approaches a metaphor in that it is a figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another, but allegory still depends on a comparison in terms of ratio or proportion. Similarly,

FIGURE 6.1 Steven Holl; Section of Trapped Shadows, Knut Hamsun project.

sketches might hold some proportional qualities in comparison to the original, but the issue here lies in the nature of the original. Jean Baudrillard questions the image as real, or more than real, when he discusses the perception and interpretation of media. 'For us the medium, the image medium, has imposed itself between the real and the imaginary, upsetting the balance between the two, with a kind of a fatality which has it own logic ' (1987: 30). With this in mind, sketches hover between the two and possibly cannot be declared as either. Since sketches in architecture can be used in many ways and take many forms, it is clearly the quality of likeness which unites them.

This beautifully articulated section for the Knut Hamsun project by Steven Holl (Figure 6.1) tells a story of relative likeness. The watercolor sketch is entitled Section of Trapped Shadows. Black watercolor enhances the stark white stream of light emitting from an opening in the wall on the top right corner of the building. This profile exhibits the relative proportion and placement of floors, walls, and balconies. The column of light has been calculated to flow into the space at a specific angle and thus at a specific time of day. The space has been given scale with stairs, figures, and some furniture. It appears Holl was attempting to visualize the space with this provocative band of illumination to break diagonally through the different levels. Most likely, it was important for him to attain a sense of 'reality' but also control the light in a conceptual way.

Although the volume in the completed building may not appear exactly like the section sketch, it conveys a conceptual intention. Here, the desire seems to be a distinctive stream of light, so defined that it assumes volumetric qualities. Holl would know that the light would disperse and reflect to achieve a softer more modeled effect when constructed, but it was important to demonstrate the angles and the intended outcome.

This sketch cannot replicate the exact atmosphere of the space, but it could assist to understand the relationships, anticipate the sun angles, and simulate the conceptual intention. This exaggeration shows the purpose and also describes the way the illumination would act. As a diagram it provided sufficient likeness to understand the spatial relationships and the effect of the wall opening. The sketch may have confirmed, for Holl, a competent resemblance for reference.

In his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell writes about how unexplainable connections in our brains present association of 'ikeness and recognition. When describing the way our perceptions draw conclusions and make instantaneous comparisons, he uses the example of bird watchers ' ability to immediately recognize various species of birds:

Most of bird identification is based on a sort of subjective impression — the way a bird moves and little instantaneous appearances at different angles and sequences of different appearances, and as it turns its head and as it flies and as it turns around, you see sequences of different shapes and angles, ... all that combines to create a unique impression of a bird that can't really be taken apart and described in words. When it comes down to being in the field and looking at a bird, you don't take the time to analyze it and say it shows this, this, and this; therefore it must be this species. It's more natural and instinctive. After a lot of practice, you look at the bird, and it triggers little switches in your brain. It looks right. You know what it is at a glance. (Gladwell, 2005: 44—45)

This occurrence usually emanates from experience helping observers recognize 'ikeness. Gladwell also suggests that much of this recognition and adjustment, or quick unexplainable connections, is subconscious and touches upon body memory. This readjustment and refinement take on qualities of second nature. Gladwell relates a story of exceptional tennis players about their success. Tennis Pro coach Vic Braden queries tennis players ' .about why and how they play the way they do ' , and invariably he comes away disappointed, '.they do things they cannot explain or are not conscious of' (Gladwell, 2005: 67—68). They make conscious and also these subconscious corrections in their play to refine and improve performance. Likewise architects, using their judgment, continually perfect their sketches to meet conceptual notions or to 'make and match' an impression in their mind's eye. This mental impression as compared to the sketched image is a constant refinement of likeness.

Not all architects draw from imagination, but instead may start by drawing a shape or form and then use that image to summon new images. Often they doodle when conversing with a client. Whatever personal method they use for inspiration or association, these sketches convey some elements of communication.

Promoting the special talents of architects becomes advantageous. Architects sell a service often viewed by laymen as exceptional, if not magical. Historically, artists were reported to be able to make ' things' come to life. Daedalus, in mythical stories, made statues so lifelike they ' .had to be fastened down, to prevent them from walking away ' (Kris and Kurz, 1979: 68—68). This myth of artists/architects in control of images infiltrates our society. Eco explains that anyone with an ability to draw is set apart as having a special secret or knowing another language:

This also helps us to understand why a person who speaks does not seem to be born with any special ability, but if someone can draw, he already seems 'different' from others, because we recognize in him the ability to articulate elements of a code which does not belong to the whole group; and we recognize in him an autonomy in relation to normal systems which we do not recognize in any speaker except a poet (Eco, 1979: 215).

The ability to conceive and produce images sets architects apart from members of non-artistic professions. The skill to communicate with drawings preserves this separation. The power to relate to an original, to what is depicted, further expresses a capacity to assimilate likeness. Kris and Kurz, in a book on legends and myths of artists, write that there is potency in control of the image, especially when that image holds the soul of that substance:

Here we come upon the most common practice associated with the equation of picture and depicted, namely, the belief in magic, especially effigy magic — the belief that 'a man's soul resides in his image, that those who possess this image also hold power over that person, and that all the pain inflicted on the image must be felt by the person it represents'. (Kris and Kurz, 1979: 73)

Obviously the building is not a person, but if architects can be compared to thaumaturgists, then the image has a 'life' that evokes fear of alteration. In some way, architects do assign drawings anthropomorphic qualities and, to obliterate them, may destroy their life and the life of the building in a metaphoric manner. This study has viewed caricature as a system that distorts and transforms images, an activity that could not have taken place before the time of the Renaissance. The power to deform recognizes a control over an architectural environment, and presents the faculty for judgment and evaluation. Architects have had the capacity to distort and change images, but the pertinent issue remains the ability of architects to manipulate likeness.

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