The Arrested Image (redrawn)
At the conclusion of his book, The Projective Cast, Robin Evans formulates a diagram titled “The Arrested Image”. The aim of this diagram is “to define the different fields of projective transmission that concern architecture.” For Evans, projection is the transfer of information from one repository of knowledge to another. The diagram describes four repositories of knowledge: orthographic projection drawings, perspective drawings and images, the designed object, and the human designer or observer (which is further subdivided into perception and imagination). Each of these four repositories projects information to, and receives it from, the other three. Design is thus described as a process of continuous informational exchange between the four repositories. Information does not travel smoothly through the network; each type of projection contains some level of contamination or distortion, and the direction in which information travels matters.
“The Arrested Image” shows how architectural design works as an expanded set of dynamics in which drawing has historically played a pivotal role. In order to make assertions regarding how drawing functions in a contemporary design environment, and claim for it potential futures, the diagram has been updated. There are four structural differences in this new version. First, the ‘perspective’ is replaced with the ‘model,’ this is assumed to be a three-dimensional digital model. Second, a new repository of knowledge, ‘external resources’ has been added. This includes information in the categories of software operations, parametric inputs, algorithms, and other data used to systematically inform design. The ‘external resources’ node has been placed across the thresholds of imagination and perception because it becomes integral to how design potentials are imagined and perceived. It has been placed behind the threshold of observation because it becomes a filter through which the designer observes other parts of the design network. Effective incorporation of external resources creates a hybrid human/non-human designing and observing apparatus. Projections between the human designer, design instruments, and the design remain; though they are considered to be of secondary importance. Third, the model (previously the perspective) and the design (previously the designed object) are more closely related than before. As digital models become increasingly comprehensive representations of buildings, and digital fabrication tools reduce the significance of type 5 projection lines, the model is becoming more like the design. Fourth, models and drawings are more closely related than before, but deliberately held apart. Digital tools tend to conflate drawings and models; two-dimensional drawings can easily be extracted from three-dimensional models, and information from two-dimensional drawings can feed directly into three-dimensional models. While acknowledging this relationship, a clear distinction between drawings and models preserves a speculative, abstracted arena where more unpredictable explorations can unfold.
Full text published on suckerPUNCH and in Fresh Punches