Videos

We look forward to posting videos from Drawing and the Brain upon the conclusion of the synposium.


How Drawings Become Architectural Drawings: Seeing, Thinking, and Computing

Professor Carl Lostritto, M. Arch. Rhode Island School of Design (Architecture)

Abstract: This work takes as a given a traditional definition of drawing: a structured collection of lines on paper. These lines have a special, and often quite apparent, relationship to the act of their creation by a human author. In the case of sketching, this relationship is direct and haptic. In the case of computed drawing, the result is slow, indirect, and mediated by instrumental and general knowledge. This latter kind of drawing is relatively rare and offers an opportunity for computation to manifest outside of the confines of digital media and to contribute to architectural discourse and design. Without pixels, resolution, application-oriented software, or even the notion of the model, architectural problems and conditions come into focus along with rules, patterns, orders, algorithms, structures, and projection systems. Their presence and their relationship to each other and to mutable conceptions of dimensionality become criteria for analysis. Specific drawings, drawing series, and drawing methods are presented in the context of stand-alone (paper) architecture and pedagogy within a professional architecture curriculum.





Seeing, Drawing, and Making

Professor William Gwin (emeritus)

Abstract: As a visual thinker I don’t naturally think in words, or entirely trust them. I feel that writing about works that are the output of a creative process is often counterproductive, but I feel that a certain amount of discourse is useful. Though I have worked with computers for years, I still value most the touch of the hand to paper, the feel of the pencil, charcoal, or brush moving across the surface… and the magic that can happen there. Drawing is extremely important for me; it liberates and leads to a kind of insight unknown in the world of words. Many of us are visual thinkers; it is how we explore and act in our world. We live in a world of images and use the pencil to find order and pursue solutions to practical and aesthetic problems. We doodle, we sketch, we explore. From the gesture, the mark, the sketch, to the developed layered drawing, we move to deeper understanding. In my session I will present and discuss the development of my work using images from my sketchbooks, studies, and drawings.





Artificial Neural Networks and Human Collaboration

Juhong Park, Ph.D., M. Arch., B. Eng. University of Miami (School of Architecture)

Abstract: Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) are artificial intelligence algorithms that are inspired by the brain’s central nervous systems. This paper presents the application of ANNs in the design and the development of building information modeling tool. The BIM-based tool is introduced as a means to quickly generate possible building typologies on a given project site, with the computation of expected total values expressed in simple financial terms. Its aim is to help a group of heterogeneous professionals to communicate in the same language, articulate criteria and priorities in multiple perspectives, and share rapidly simulated evaluations of schematic design variations.





How the Hand Helped the Brain Get Language: Implications for Drawing

Dr. Michael Arbib, Fletcher Jones Professor of Computer Science, and Professor of Biological Sciences, Biomedical Engineering,Electrical Engineering, Neuroscience and Psychology, University of Southern California

Abstract: In his book "The Thinking Hand,” the Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa not only praises the way that sketching allows the architect to embody space but also argues against the use of computers for sketching (without denying their utility at later stages of the design process). But is this assessment correct? Summarizing the hypotheses in my book "How the Brain Got Language" (Oxford University Press, 2012), I will argue that the practical use of the hand was at the heart of language evolution via manual gesture and proto-sign -- which in turn provided the scaffolding for speech and human languages as we know them today. This will lead into the issue of whether the brain mechanisms that evolved to support languages-as-strings-of-words may also be seen to support what is in some sense a "language" of architecture. This will open up a discussion of the relevant merits of drawing by hand and more "linguistic" forms of design, with computer graphics being seen as a bridge between visual-motor embodiment and the symbolic.





Deconstructing and Reconstructing

Dr. Barbara Tversky, Professor of Psychology, Columbia Teachers College and Prof. Emerita of Psychology, Stanford University

Abstract: If all invention is reinvention, how do we get new ideas? Designers, artists, scientists, writers, and ordinary people report many different ways. What works? We describe research both from naturalistic studies of novice and expert architects and experts artists and from laboratory experiments on experts and novices. Together the results show advantages both of ambiguous sketches that allow reconfiguring and consequent reinterpretation--deconstruction--and of top-down strategies that produce effective exploration and new perspectives--reconstruction.





Drawing as Cognitive Technology

Judith E. Fan, Ph.D. Candidate, Psychology Department, Psychology, Neuroscience, and Cognitive Science

Abstract: Visualizations are powerful instruments of thought, enabling humans to convert their ideas and experiences into knowledge, share this knowledge with others, and transform their intentions into artifacts. How might learning how to draw from observation enhance observational skills? What cognitive processes underlie our ability to produce informative and elegant visualizations? This talk reviews evidence from the cognitive science and educational research literatures that bears on how drawing, the most basic visualization technique, interacts with cognitive functions that are core to scientific thinking, including: discovery of patterns and constructing explanations.





CogSketch: Sketch Understanding for Cognitive Science Research and for Education

Dr. Kenneth Forbus, Walter P. Murphy Prof. of Computer Science and Prof. of Education Northwestern University

Abstract: Sketching is a powerful means of working out and communicating ideas. We are creating CogSketch, an open-domain sketch understanding system that is serving both as a cognitive science research instrument and as a platform for sketch-based educational software. These missions interact: Our cognitive simulation work leads to improvements which can be exploited in creating educational software, and our prototype efforts to create educational software expose where we need further basic research. CogSketch incorporates a model of visual processing and qualitative spatial representations, facilities for analogical reasoning and learning, and a large common-sense knowledge base. Our vision is that sketch-based intelligent educational software will ultimately be as widely available to students as graphing calculators are today. This talk will describe both cognitive simulations performed using CogSketch, showing it is capable of human-level performance in some visual problem-solving tasks, and how these capabilities have enabled it to be used to create new kinds of sketch-based educational software.





The Legacy of Layering: Drawing Techniques for the Contemporary Condition

Professor Patricia Hedya Washington University in St. Louis

Abstract: Designing architectural and urban space involves intense problem-solving whereby designers must spatially organize and innovate what are usually competing agendas, requirements and restrictions. Designers face these kinds of competing requirements as they conceptualize 3-dimensional spaces in buildings, just as they face competing political tensions and differing needs as they design for vast urban areas. Drawing through processes of layering becomes an effective form of negotiation, problem solving and ideation in these contexts. Layering is not a new concept. Where plans and sections have long been idealized through superimposition (across layers of translucent trace) so too are now contested terrains manifested even digitally, as spatial overlays. The kinds of design problems that exist today demand techniques that embrace complexity, rather than over-simplification. The loose practice of seeing and working (drawings) through overlaid relationships that come from simultaneity and translucency remains an effective technique for the designer, regardless of the medium, digital or drawn.





Obscurum per Obscurius

Professor Thomas Lyon Mills Rhode Island School of Design

Ironically, it is the discrepancy between our unfocussed marks – our lack of precision compared with the purity of the subject, full of complexity and unseen forces at work – that leads to the prolonged search. So, the initial marks we make in drawing are only the beginning: it is when we begin to unmake these marks through sanding and erasing, by deliberate excavation, drawing starts to reveal its shocking truths, its elegance and its inevitability.





Drawing as a Way of Seeing

Frank Harmon, FAIA Architect Architect and Professor of Practice North Carolina State University

Drawing allows us to see things we never noticed before. Leonardo Di Vinci said that drawing was a way to understand the world. As architects we are uniquely qualified to notice the nuances of the “everything” things. The shape of a plowed field, the fabric of cities, the stones in a cemetery wall -- all carry a message about how we inhabit our place. If we can express our observations of the world around us more clearly, we can encourage others to look more closely as well.

This presentation explores the belief that drawing is not an obsolete skill -- which drawing allows us, as architects, to develop a natural grace in the way we design our projects and engage the world around us. How, then, can clarity and simplicity in drawing help us to become better designers?





Hand and Brain: Ten Years of looking, Twenty Years of Listening

Frank Wilson, M.D. Stanford University, School of Medicine, Professor Emeritus

Frank Wilson’s book, The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture was published in July, 1998. The author’s email address appeared on the dust jacket, and within days of the book’s publication, comments and questions from readers started arriving. They have never stopped. One of the earliest described a problem with newly hired engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena who had been hired to work on the design of geometrically complex components for spacecraft. Unexpectedly and almost uniformly, these young engineers proved incapable of interpreting 2D drawings used in the design of 3D objects required to fit and to operate in critically limited and unusually configured volumes. In an effort to understand this failing, and on a hunch, JPL asked every member of its engineering staff whether he or she had ever worked on cars. All of the older engineers had done so from a young age; none of the new engineers ever had done so, and many had never held a wrench or a screwdriver. JPL no longer hires engineers unable to demonstrate an aptitude for working with common hand-held tools. This anecdote introduces and will anchor the effort made in this talk to address the question at the heart of this conference.





From Head to Heart to Hand... Drawing in the Digital Age

Will Bruder, President: Will Bruder Architects, Fellow of the American

I firmly believe that a simple drawing, displaying the 'mastery of a mark' made by a hand with a pencil, is still one of the most primal, efficient and magical methods a person can use to evolve and communicate, moving an idea from a conceptual spark to reality. My presentation will focus on how, for the past fifty years as artist/architect, I have pursued drawing ‘to scale' as recordings of my visions of forms, spaces and REAL environments resonating with intellectual and sensual richness and where the ordinary is transformed into the memorable. Through the rigor and order drawing, I strive to give my ideas an immediate believability and physicality while empowering them with the freedom to be revealed and refined, grown or discarded. In my presentation, I will show how a traditional and well-disciplined drawing approach can still be used to enhance how we choreograph, craft and mentally inhabit an architecture of balanced pragmatic functionality and poetic atmosphere from earliest inception to timelessness.




Cognitive Benefits of Sketching

Dr. David Kirsh, Professor/past chair of the Dept. of Cognitive Science, University of California at San Diego

Sketching like gesture can be used as vehicle that supports non-verbal cognition. In this paper I will elaborate some of the differences between thought encoded in linguistic vehicles and thought encoded in visual non-linguistic vehicles. An important difference turns on the mechanical properties of these different vehicles. In particular sketching supports the use of tools that work on a malleable medium. Sketching requires tools and different tools have different effects. The physics of using these tools also imposes constraints on thought owing to the need to visually track what one is doing. I conclude with a discussion of what it is to think through sketching.




The Embodied Psyche in Drawing

Professor Anthony Fisher University of Massachusetts/Dartmouth

The quality of drawing can be measured by the extent to which it summons compelling thoughts, feelings, and ideas into the mind of the viewer. It is profound that innovations and the strategic organization of a handful of marks and erasures can both simultaneously evoke potent, vivid descriptions and the presence and sensations of an underlying psyche. Just as the carefully crafted combinations of words in a poem rely heavily on the sounds of those words for effective emanation of its content, the drawing relies on pre-cognitive visual stimulation from very particular animation imbued in the mark.




Drawing What We Can See; Imagining What We Cannot

David Braly Architect/Artist

Drawing employs a wide variety of perceptual and analytical skills that help to form a greater cognitive and sensual understanding of the world around us. This presentation will include hand-drawn examples of aerial and ground level mapping, spatial and optical phenomena, and the translation of objects and space into planar and 3-D constructions. There will be a participatory drawing component in this presentation.




Round Table Discussion 00030




Round Table Discussion 00029




Design Cognition Part 1: Empowerment through Manual Sketching

Professor Gabriela Goldschmidt, Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning Technion – Israel Institute of Technology

Designers have been sketching in the early phase of a search for solution ideas for over five centuries. What affordances does sketching facilitate? Designers are ‘magpies’ who exploit external stimuli, which serve as inspiration. Self-generated sketches become such stimuli: the sketcher reads off a self-generated rough sketch more information than was used to produce it, thus facilitating unexpected discoveries and cues, in a cyclic process of sketching acts and feedback. The augmented design space that is thus activated empowers the designer in a search for design ideas.




Design Cognition Part 2: Empowerment through Manual Sketching

Professor Gabriela Goldschmidt, Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning Technion – Israel Institute of Technology

Designers have been sketching in the early phase of a search for solution ideas for over five centuries. What affordances does sketching facilitate? Designers are ‘magpies’ who exploit external stimuli, which serve as inspiration. Self-generated sketches become such stimuli: the sketcher reads off a self-generated rough sketch more information than was used to produce it, thus facilitating unexpected discoveries and cues, in a cyclic process of sketching acts and feedback. The augmented design space that is thus activated empowers the designer in a search for design ideas.