CumInCAD is a Cumulative Index about publications in Computer Aided Architectural Design
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authors Parsons, Peter W.
year 1994
title Craft and Geometry in Architecture: An Experimental Design Studio Using the Computer
source Reconnecting [ACADIA Conference Proceedings / ISBN 1-880250-03-9] Washington University (Saint Louis / USA) 1994, pp. 171-176
summary Craft is one of the main aspects of architecture that accounts for its strong corporeal presence. The Computer used as a geometry machine lacks such tectonics. The predominant means for bringing a sense of materiality to its geometric constructions is through rendering, and in this respect the computer is not significantly different from geometric drawing. One need only recall the beautifully rendered drawings of the Beaux-Arts for a comparison. With the rise of modern architecture such 'paper' architecture was voraciously denounced in the cause of relating architectural production more closely with crafted production. Even now the interest in craft has persisted despite postmodern criticism. Therefore, a means for bringing a greater sense of craft to computer-aided design seems desirable. The architectural studio discussed in this paper was initiated partly for this purpose by intentionally confronting the computer's proclivity to move its users away from craft toward geometry, while at the same time taking advantage of its capabilities as a geometry machine. Craft can best be understood by practicing it. Consider, for example, the use of a chisel in woodwork. As one applies force with it, one can feel the resistance of the material. Carving with the grain feels differently than carving against or across it. Carving a piece of maple feels differently than carving a piece of pine. If one presses too hard on the chisel or does not hold it at the precise angle, there is a great risk of creating an unwanted gouge. Gradually with practice the tool feels as if it is an extension of the hand that holds it. it becomes an extension of the body. One can feel the physical qualities of the wood through it. Like a limb of the body its presence can become transparent and one can learn about what one feels through it. It can imprint a memory in the mind that comes to the brain, not through the eyes alone, but through the tactile senses. On the other hand it is tiring to use a chisel for an extended period of time. One's body begins to ache and, as the body tires, the risks of making an unwanted mistake increase. Furthermore, because a tool becomes wedded to the body, it is almost impossible to use more than one tool at a time unless they are being used in conjunction with one another as one might use two limbs of the body together. On a computer one can never 'feel' an object, the image of which is on the screen, in the same manner that one can feel with a chisel the material upon which one is working. One becomes particularly aware of this when creating a 3D computer model of a hand tool. One wants to hold it, not just look at it. Thus the artifice of the object created by means of the computer becomes very apparent, because the 'tool' has not yet taken on the qualities of a tool, although it has taken on the appearance of one.
series ACADIA
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100%; open Itten, J. (1964) Find in CUMINCAD Design and Form: The Basic Course at the Bauhaus , New York
100%; open Lischewski, H.-C. (1994) Find in CUMINCAD Like Pencils, Only Better , Progressive Architecture, May 1994, pp.80-83
100%; open Shklovsky, V. (1965) Find in CUMINCAD Art as Technique , (1917) translated in Russian Formalist Criticism, Four Essays, L.T. Lemon and M.J. Reis, eds., London, 1965, pp.3-24

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