At a time when the vertical integration of digital design, visualisation and fabrication  At a time when the vertical integration of digital design, visualisation and fabrication technologies promises a re-materialisation of architecture, to investigate the notion of drawing may appear paradoxical. This crucial question nevertheless continues to nurture vivid debates in the discipline, some predicting the death of this medium while others announce its resurgence in contact with the digital.

It has been several decades now that digital design tools have altered the traditional understanding of what the architectural drawing is. More importantly, the import of simulation tools, based on the use of genetic algorithms, and of robotic procedures, has profoundly shaken the notions of representation and projection upon which the practice of drawing is funded.

Today’s software and exponential computing power of our machines introduce the possibility to work without loss, in an exhaustive and exact manner, reconnecting design with physical, material and constructive reality. This reconciliation with the real, that some thought to havespotted in the literality of early digital representations, has now become effective. The drawing henceforth perfectly coincides with the constructive information; it stops representing – and instead presents the project; and, by being ”plugged” directly to the fabrication apparatuses, it introduces a relation of identity with the realized artefact.

This leads to the commonly shared idea that the drawing is reduced to an informational normativity, as if  attened, and crashed onto the real. Against this mutation, we witness a form of obsolete romanticism that promotes the uniqueness of the sketch and freehand drawing as the author’s original act, both a recording of the world and a creative fulgurance. But this sharp opposition between drawing and technology carries a double omission.

Firstly, it negates that the architectural drawing has historically been linked to technological evolutions that, over the centuries, have regulated man’s relation to the real. Froms the invention of perspective to that of the printing press, technology has determined the epistemological and cultural transformations, allowing for the diffusion of the drawing as a tool to transmit information and, therefore, to regulate, teach and promote an architectonic culture.
The second omission is that computational drawing, by means of simulation procedures, opens up to complexity; its fundamentally rational nature does not abstract it from, but potentially reconnects it to imagination, via abstraction. As such, drawing remains a fundamentally speculative medium, to address the reality of our computational, hyper- abstract world. That is why it dialogs with, and extends, the experimentations that have marked the 20th Century, from the expressionist power of Bruno Taut’s glass architecture and the rigour of De Stijl, to contemporary point clouds and convolutions of digitally simulated  flocks.

The program of exhibitions and workshops DRAWBOT will explore how post-digital drawing frees itself from  ction to reaf rm its nature, in close relationship with other disciplines: simultaneously analytical, critical, speculative and expressive. In this perspective, DRAWBOT will present the work of architects, artists and computation scientists that experiment with simulation and modelling tools, robotic procedures and artificial intelligence, and alter what it means to draw.

Each elaborate strategies that rede ne the  gure of the author and the work of the hand, both strongly associated to traditional drawings. Certain embrace digital logics of production and aim at translating the quantitative aspect of computation, while others situate the subjectivity of the author in the qualitative, the accidental, the discontinuous, the volatile and the catastrophic.
Drawing can thus be the by-product of an interface, of a recording of the world via data, the fruit of a collaboration with the robot and of the delegation of a gesture, opening up to human and non-human co-authorship. But it can also, on the contrary, emerge from non-linear causalities at the granular scale, opening itself up to the highest simplicity or the most extreme complexity and thus blurring traditional categories.

The program will explore the following aspects:
1. Algorithmic generation, an important tool of modelling and simulation, which frees drawing from existing, traditional categories. The author’s intentions are not constrained by the tool or the technique anymore: a common digital matter, a continuous informational substratum allows to produce the most diverse effects and drawing can thus embrace, in a unique movement, a pictorial materiality, the illusory realism of photography or the precision of the technical stroke. The drawing is extracted simultaneously from its bi-dimensionality and its  xity and, by means of data visualisation tools, reconnects with materiality and three-dimensionality.

2. Robotical procedures used in the elaboration of the drawing. The gesture is here displaced from the hand to the robotic arm, makes abstraction of the body. Opening a form of co-authorship, robotics open drawing both to the possibility of an extreme precision and to a loss of control, to the point of loosing the preliminary design. Through robotics, the drawing adopts other forms of materiality, abandons planeness to be deployed into space.

3. Finally, the exhibitions will present drawings that stem from the application of digital logics to analogue processes, such as the use of discrete systems and of unmodified iteration; they will also feature artefacts produced through data-processing techniques, that display singular graphic qualities.


– Edouard Cabay (Appareil) – Grégory Chatonsky – Anne- Valérie Gasc – Jessica In – Andrew Lucia – Peter Macapia – Vahid Moosavi-  Maria Smigielska- Young & Ayata

Next exhibition. Drawbot #2, 26th Jan. – 24th Feb. 2018.

AREA Institute

96 Rue de Cléry, 75002 Paris, France

Drawbot #1: Anne-Valérie Gasc
Drawbot #1: Maria Smigielska
Drawbot #1: Peter Macapia