Survey of Drawing Practices

Orthographic and perspective drawings settled in Europe around the 15th and 16th century and through aggressive colonising processes became the most dominant form of architectural drawing. While perspective became the only representation for imagined space and stood for the camera; orthography became the framework that lent itself easily to the modern capitalistic building making systems. These were both enshrined through serious institutionalisation in academia and industry providing them the legitimacy of being the primary forms to imagine space. At SEA, the question that we ask is: What were/are the forms of drawings beyond  orthographies and perspectives that enabled people to imagine space and what were/are the spatialities that such drawings produce? Drawings here include not only two dimensional visual forms but also multidimensional and non-visual forms that become the bridge in the imagination of space. At the core of this initiative is to establish that there is a strong relationship between how we draw, the frameworks we use, the form of the drawing and the spatialities  that we go on to imagine and build. At SEA, we hold that the drawing is much more than an obliging document passed between designers and those who execute and oversee building-making, but is a potent repository that holds within itself the milieu of visual culture, ambition and experience and desire. A drawing is a different way to encounter space, since a drawing is the space sited differently. Historically, this has led to space finding several expressions in drawing. Human experience and human life, not constrained by the logics of our physical world, by a singular understanding of space and time, unfold in many ways in these practices of drawing. They are not just instruments that rely on a codified understanding of space that assist in the production of form, but describe cultural aspirations, become maps that chart our lives through the spaces of our practices, and even go on to order our universes for us.
It is in these (currently considered) alternative imaginations of space that our interest lies. We presume that cultures have a specific manner of thinking about space and spatiality. For example, the tribes in western India make drawings of their habitations in a specific manner that differs from the medieval landscape and miniature painters of northern and central India. While each of these forms hold within themselves the cultural thickness of the prevalent society, they also aid in the imagination of new spatialities. This is because, overwhelmingly, drawing practices are linked to building practices. While in another section of this research cluster we undertake a Critique of Contemporary Architectural Drawing, in this section we aim at producing an analysis of certain cultural drawing productions and the spaces.

This research  will discuss the property and potential of the drawing to influence form-making (since the drawing is a reading of the form), in the hope of generating and foregrounding different drawing practices in order to think of form in newer, more meaningful ways. The study also hopes to broaden the idea of the drawing, or rather broaden the sense of practices of imagining space since several traditions use oral instruction, or song, or coded prescriptions that are firmly held in artisanal methods of building. The spaces that they produce are distinct and bound to the forms of the imaginations that begot them. Through an analysis of five drawing / non drawing practices, as well as through the building of an archive that will locate these within the larger global context, the research will establish and explore the relationship between the imagined and desired form and the built form.