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Drawing the digital: From 'virtual' experiences of spaces to 'real' drawings

Banou, Sophia

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Laura Allen

Luke Caspar Pearson


Over the latter half of the twentieth century the proliferation of images has affected deeply the way we approach and engage with our surroundings, contributing to an increasingly mediated experience of reality. We ‘place’ ourselves in this world not only through real but also through simulated spaces and representations. In the emergence of architectural space as a space of congested representations and the privileging of the image as simulation rather than representation, architectural drawing conventions are faced with the inadequacy of their codes in articulating new perceptions of spaces. Most importantly however, what is challenged is the operation of drawing as not image or object, but as a distinct projective spatiality that mediates between the tangible reality of figuration and the projected spatiality of speculation. The increasing shift from physical experience to visually consumed impressions¬¬ of spaces can be traced back to the explorations and technological advancements of early modernity that brought to the fore the interrelation between space and time. In this context it can be considered as derived not by the digital mediations and manifestations of spaces but rather by a wider visual culture which can be, through Gilles Deleuze’s writing on cinema (Deleuze, 1983, 1985), as well as Jonathan Beller’s concept of the ‘Cinematic Mode of Production’ considered as ‘cinematic’ (Beller, 2002). As both Deleuze and Beller suggest, the cinematic does not simply entail the production of imagery but also the consequent production of consciousness and perception as ideology, challenging thus the interrelation between notions of reality, language and virtuality. This paper will look into the ways that the effects of virtuality that emerge in, and are operative for, the performativity of drawing as a ‘space of representation’ (Dorrian and Hawker, 2002) are contested by the effects of virtuality produced out of the cinematic, as the former seem to facilitate while the latter seem to bypass the production of spatial concepts. In light of the range of representational, recording, image and form producing possibilities offered by digital media – described by Beller as successors of the cinematic – this paper considers the current ‘digital turn’ of architecture as the architectural counterpart of the representational experimentations of modernist artists. This turn is situated in relation to the Cartographic and Geographic turns of architecture and architectural representation, as introduced respectively by Mark Dorrian (2005) and David Gissen (2008). In these latter turns, the pressure initially exerted upon architectural practice by the so-called crisis of representation, drawn out of the philosophical and political debates of the 1960s (Tschumi, 1996) is considered through opposing strategies of representation and simulation. The chapter finally argues that what is at stake in the digital not-yet-turn but challenge of architecture, is neither the skeuomorphic imitation of drawing’s analogue techniques, nor the production of iconic imagery, but rather the ‘domestication’ (Ingraham, 1998) of the medium as a new field of performance for architectural thinking-through-drawing through the (re)consideration of convention as a ground capable of facilitating both semiotic integrity and performance.


Banou, S. (2016). Drawing the digital: From 'virtual' experiences of spaces to 'real' drawings. In L. C. Pearson, & L. Allen (Eds.), Drawing Futures: Speculations Contemporary Drawing for Art and Architecture, 20-27. UCL Press

Publication Date Jan 1, 2016
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2018
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 20-27
Series Title Drawing Futures
Series Number 1
Book Title Drawing Futures: Speculations Contemporary Drawing for Art and Architecture
ISBN 9781911307266
Keywords architectural drawing, representation, digital drawing, cinematic mode of production
Publisher URL


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