The Most Powerful Visualization Tool – Part 3: Rendering

It’s often argued that the visualization by the traditional tecniques is obsolete, compared to digital, because it would be less immediate. Developing an idea, an image with a pencil definitely requires more time and the result is not so immediate. For example, an architect or a designer will start from a general idea, to descend to a lower size scale, or vice versa, then moving to a series of variations, perhaps by the technical detail development, etc…
All this,  requires to imagine, pre-figure – that’s to create in our mind the embryo of an image – which is not a ghost, but a connection in the synapses of our brain, therefore, something that enhances our own creative thinking.

I’m not sure that the use of softwares is equally favorable to the brain.
My teaching experience is that students of Today have less imagination. We live in an age where you no longer need to imagine, because any image is immediately available by Internet. The images are no longer thought: they’re consumed.

Frank Lloyd Wright: Fallingwater, 1936

A Frank Lloyd Wright's perspective, influenced by the aesthetics of Japanese Prints : Kaufmann House-"Fallingwater",1936 (brown ink and coulored pencil on paper); ©the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Also the school education participates to this: yesterday, when a teacher explained the Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, the students had to imagine the armies engaged in battle; today, thanks to interactive whiteboards, teachers can show them the military strategic plan, the uniforms of the armies, the all officers portraits and the weather report about the rain that immobilized the Napoleonic artillery. Not for this, students better understand history.

Antonio Sant'Elia, la Centrale Elettrica, 1914

An Antonio Sant'Elia drawing,visionary and related to the Viennese Secession style: Project for a Power Plant, 1914 (pencil and watercolour on paper); ©Archivio Sant'Elia,Pinacoteca Civica, Como

Another skills that the use of hardwares risks, indeed, maybe it already doing to lose us, are the hand ability. The motor skills required today are lower than the manual and micro-manuals needed when handling real tools and instruments. Some might say this is evolution, but a famous anthropological theory argues that, when the first hominids moved from a quadruped to biped posture, the opportunity to use our hands for a purpose other than walking,  influenced profoundly the development of the human brain. If so, can a more basic use of our arms –  pressing a key is not a sophisticated skill –  affect our minds?

A good opportunity is perhaps the one offered by the softwares that allow to write and draw directly on a tablet. However, it’s always an interaction with a machine. In this regard, my friend and colleague Marco Motta, after reading the previous posts, reminds me that, however, “the hand itself is a tool.

Right, but I think this doesn’t mean that any instrument we take, is a valid vehicle of our creativity. A “tool” is a “mean“, in our case, for the purpose to trace a (de)sign. Compared to the body, the hand is not a mean, because it’s itself Body. Anyway, compared to the brain, the hand could be seen as a mean, and then it would be an extension of the Mind.

Zaha Hadid, MAXXI, Rome, 1998

A Zaha Hadid's aerial view study, between the Futurist painting and Arabic calligraphy: MAXXI-Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome,1998 (acrylic on black board); ©Zaha Hadid Architects

But the medium, is never neutral. Also leaves its mark. So, media and tools influence the creative process by inserting their genetic mark in the work produced.
Watercolour and oil paintings derive their peculiar aspect by the technique and materials, which have no equivalent in the computer produced images, nor those made with softwares that simulate those techniques. The characters of the Latin, Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese writings, highest examples of graphic design, derive their look from the instruments with which they were originally written: chisel, stylus, pen, brush; and their aesthetic over again, after centuries, the computer designed fonts.

A emblematic case of this, I believe it can be the Savoy Vase, designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. The shape of this vase is sinuous,  likewise other Aalto’s designs.

Aalto's Savoy Vase Sketches

Alvar Aalto's sketches for Karhula-Iittala's competition, 1936 (coloured pencil and collage on paper) - ©Lasimuseot, Iittala, Finland

In 1936, the Finnish glass factories Karhula-Iittala proclaimed a contest to design a vases and dishes collection to present at the Paris World’s Fair. Aalto, who also painted abstract paintings, presented a series of ten sketches. In the flowing strokes of his drawings, there was already the final product DNA: the concept of a vessel made by the juxtaposition of several pots, reminiscent of the Finnish lakes basins; as you will have the flowers into a vase like this? Surely a more free and natural way. The proposal won the competition and the following year, were ordered by a new luxury restaurant in Helsinki, called Savoy.

Nowadays,  an industrial design student can produce in twenty minutes a digital rendering of that vase, as realistic as a photo of the original, but without this is so much beautiful.
Why? Maybe because there is not in it the imprint of the Idea: the Handprint.

Real and Rendering Savoy Vase

left: Savoy Vase, MoMA-Museum of Modern Art, New York; ph: ©Kate Keller _ right: my 20 minutes rough digital rendering

 Other posts in this series:
The Most powerful Visualization tool – Part 1: Recording
The Most powerful Visualization tool – Part 2: Processing

About liviusnotes

Architect, Graphic Illustrator, Drawing Teacher, Gentleman.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Computergraphic, Creativity and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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