Drawing space: Disclosing architecture | First Deviation


Is it that a successful map need to have one dimension less than the place it captures? Would a map be a map if it had the same quantity of dimensions as it’s subject?

The geographer who measures features of the world and records them into flat surfaces is conditioned to the loss of a dimension.

The loss of a dimension is a mechanism. One that enables translation. Information takes another form, and some features of a space suddenly become more obvious, readable.

In the case of the First Deviation, droplets of color ink fall onto a moving canvas. During their fall, the drop’s theoretical trajectory is affected by external factors such as minor air currents or vibrations of voices and deviate. The stain that the drop makes hitting the page is the trace of it’s fall, and it’s irregularity contains the deviation.

The drawing is a simple recording of that event.

With an apparent loss of two dimensions: a spatial event happening over time  – 4 dimensional – gets translated into a drawing – 2 dimensional. But here, the colors play a role: if a blue drop deviates towards a yellow one, the mixing of their pigments gives a green stain. The colors on the page therefore also provide information about the event, they contribute to making the drawing a recoding. The colors here are a means of measurement. They are a dimension.

So we are back to the 4 to 3 ratio.

The sets of drawings made during the First Deviation are no projection. The drawing here is only a trace and doesn’t pretend to be anything else than that. But it is a window into space, the one of a specific moment in time, that will never reproduce. They express – architectural – space, through the act of measuring.

‘Deviation 1’ print will be on show at the McCormick Gallery, Boston Architectural College until January 2nd 2019.

nozzle height: 15m
nozzle height: 15m


What is your most important tool?

After 15 years of practice, I am pleased to say that I am no longer able to answer this question in a few words.

I believe I took on architecture partially for the desire to draw. However, as a student, in the early 2000’s, I was fascinated by the advent of new computation tools which opened a an incredible set of new design possibilities and enabled us to come up with design solutions that were radically different from what we were shown in books. This was (and still is) an incredibly fertile ground for invention and experimentation.

Everything was new.

New software’s would pop up continuously providing entirely singular ways of generating new forms. It was all about discovery, invention, this was a time of pioneers. However, I recall this time as one in which I struggled to make use of my hand, besides the keyboard and the mouse, it didn’t do much more.

Many years later, while working on the construction of a large interior project where all parts were digitally mecanised, hand-sketching became suddenly valuable: every detail was worked out on paper before being modeled and produced. The atmosphere in the office changed: we started gathering around the meeting table with paper and coloured pencils.

The seductive image, once described to me by a first year tutor, of Carlo Scarpa with his craftsman drawing with both hands, came back to my mind. It is paradoxical that a computer driven tool, such as a 3-axis mill, would suddenly evoke images of the past in which people conversed around the actions of hands on paper. But it’s obvious to me that the advancement of technology today, and it’s use in architecture and construction, is strongly connecting us back to craft and therefore to the hand.

The project of automatisation in drawing, a process of drawing that uses different medias was born out of my desire to relate the physical hand to the computer. (The latest research has been recently published in a book called “Plots, drawings by humans, algorithms and machines”.) Although one might see a relationship of conflict between tools that appear to be at either end of the spectrum, I trust in a experimenting with a methodology which combines the physical and the digital.

Architecture is a complex discipline, the questions that arise during the working process don’t have a single solution, and they need exploration in order to be answered. I believe that, being equipped with as many tools as possible, is the best preparation for providing sensible solutions.

nozzle height: 3m
nozzle height: 3m
nozzle height: 1,2m
nozzle height: 1,2m
nozzle height: 0,6m
nozzle height: 0,6m
nozzle height: 0,2m
nozzle height: 0,2m
nozzle height: 0,1m
nozzle height: 0,1m

How would you define your practice?

I use drawing (and sometimes other techniques) in order to explore questions of automation in the creative process.

Automation doesn’t refer only to mechanical and digital technology, it can also include people for instance. It rather refers to the act of creating something with the use of an external element, an extension. This extension executes what one has defined as an intention. But it invariably brings something unexpected in the process: an accident, an imprecision, a deviation…

What is for you the value of the drawing?

In my work the value of the drawing is the manifestation of a process that has once occurred. It is a map of an event. But it is also a recording of the inevitable deviations that occur within fully automated environments. This is First Deviation.

What is your work flow?

The work flow involved in the set-up of installations as First Deviation is curious. It initially begins as extremely technical and quickly morphs into an exercise on composition: in order to automate drawing, the machine has to be constructed and then calibrated. In this process, both the questions and solutions are direct. When all the technicalities are solved, a brutal shift occurs: the one which introduces the question of what to draw. Here simple solutions don’t exist but rather what is required is a total change in attitude.

Up to now the work has focused on the drawing of grids, as these are the best tool through which to measure deviation.

What is the difference between a drawing conceived digitally or within the physical?

There are many, personally the variances are more significant within the process rather than in the outcome. Possibly the most important are: the attitude towards drawing & “control+Z” command.

When one works with the computer, one can rely on the extreme velocity of computing. No – or little – effort can be employed in the production of infinite options of a design, or endless variables, as a consequence, the decision making process becomes fundamentally different.

Some say that drawing is deciding. I would add that this is more valid in the case of hand drawing, especially if done with ink and applies less to the computer drawing. The hand drawing has something closed about itself, it is “figé” while the computer drawing is open, it feels it can always be edited or developed… For the best or for the worst.

What value does the exhibition hold for you?

It is a great chance to have drawings featured very far away from where they were produced.
In the process of automatisation of drawing, there is the value of the process and the value of the outcome. Some mught say that the outcome is irrelevant without the process. But exhibiting them on their own means that people can do their own interpretation of what they are.

What can be for you a digital exhibition?

The digital embeds the archive. Things in the digital realm do never completely disappear. So it constructs knowledge and is therefore an incredibly powerful thing.

What are your thoughts on digital platforms, as that of KooZA/rch?

There was no KooZA/arch platform when I was a student. Which meant that we would go to the library to see drawings, or alternatively look at the other’s work in the studio. Today, I like to scroll online, I consider KooZA/arch as a sort of drawing library, but I like that it comprises drawings from professional and students from wherever. I think it blurs the question of geography and questions of appurtenance to a style. Today one doesn’t need to go to a particular school to learn how to draw in a particular way. The resources are open and accessible, which enriches everyone who is curious.


First Deviation was shown in the automatic exhibition in Arts Santa Monica in Barcelona, during the summer of 2018 project collaborators: Peter Geelmuyden Magnus and Soroush Garivani

photography credits: José Hevia

drawing photography credits: Xavier Gonzalez