Knowledge by other means - machinic duration and anexactitude in data-driven urban drawing

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Abstract / Description of output

Half a decade past the consolidation of the first ‘Digital Turn’ in architecture, contemporary designers seem to have decidedly embraced the unprecedented power of machinic thinking, subsequently adopting its embedded logical processes. We may, however, pose a critical question in the context of this ‘second computational turn’: Are there any non-computable elements of thought in the development of spatialized digital intelligence?

As a partial response, this paper unpacks a series of productive relationships intersecting urban drawing and the passing of time in the context of a data-driven design environment. This enquiry looks into the processes carried out by a custom-built robotic drawing machine, tracing dynamic vector data streams collated from fieldwork developed via GPS tracking of individual urban displacements in Cagliari, Sardinia during April 2017. Its machinic drawing protocol re-enacts this continuous, heterogeneous, collectively constructed urban landscape as it slowly remaps its territorial occupation into the target surface of the paper.

The hybrid digital-analogue apparatus draws from a long historical lineage of vector-based machinic systems designed for architectural drafting. Situating themselves between the human hand and the surface of the paper, those machines acted as carriers of embodied spatial knowledge that could be selectively actualised into specific design processes and materialisations.

Deploying a range of intertwined digital and analogue media, this machinic environment is used to articulate a data-based urban drawing research practice and a subsequent ‘anexact’ drawing research methodology that further elaborates on the durational and multiplicitous aspects of the data-based drawings. This body of work is also reflected on as a visual research methodology, which taps into Bernard Cache’s interest in architectural computation as a way to pursue philosophical knowledge ‘by other means’ and into Gilbert Simondon’s notion of the ‘technical ensemble’ –emphasising the productive forms of indetermination emerging from its internal informational transfers-
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-154
Journalarq: Architectural Research Quarterly
Issue number2
Early online date21 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jul 2020


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