A Place to Draw

Mitchell Schuessler
The Cooper Union
Architectonics: A Place To Draw
Faculty: David Gersten (website), Uri WegmanAida Miron (website)


Our first assignment at Cooper was to draw our drafting tools. A simple task at first, but one realizes that just tracing the tools is inaccurate. The drafting lead offsets the outline of the tool by fractions of an inch. The tools didn’t need to be in a particular composition, just as long as one had all of the listed tools drawn. This included; the parallel edge, triangles, lead holder, compass, eraser shield, scale, and eraser.

In my drawing, I decided to make the cut plane for the plan, about an eighth of an inch from the paper. Basically cutting the lead holder in half, and through the wheels of the parallel edge. From this drawing and subsequent drawings, we drew our tools in a different way. One to capture the tools drawing themselves, and the next capturing the motion of the tools drawing themselves. Each time, we analyzed the language of each tool, and then how the body interacted with each tool. Simultaneously, while making these drawings, we started filming the studio daily from both sides of the room. The purpose was unknown to us until halfway through the project. During one of the final drawing exercises, we were to film ourselves drawing the tools from two points. With the two films we had, we had to create a montage using frames from the two. After, we were instructed to build a 12’ diameter cylinder with a height of 8’, with a grid 16” on center. Then, using the montage we had created, we had to take sections and plans of it. It questioned the idea of how you take a section of a photograph. Using these sections and plans, an axonometric drawing was to be created of the montage.

The next stage of the project was to skin the cylinder, install projectors where the two cameras were, and create curved parallel edges around the cylinder. Then, the video footage of the studio was projected onto the cylinder. The cylinder was absorbing the studio and its actions. The projectors would repeat the cylinder on itself, and the video soon following, playing at a doubled rate.

This is what my partner, Max Gideonse, and I worked on when we had to create interventions into the cylinder. The cylinder began repeating itself getting smaller each time, yet the video projected became faster. We traced the points of the repeating cylinders, and cut an opening to let the projection fall onto a piece of steel covered in trace. Near the termination of the projections, the grid of the cylinder was depressed inwards, creating a moment where one could see the projection hitting the steel. This project introduced us to architectonics, on the scale of the studio. Starting with the principles of drafting, we analyzed the placement and syntax of individual elements. First it was our drafting tools, then the motion of our drafting tools, and finally the three dimensional form of a photographic montage. The class had to establish a social contract with each other, and the professors. We had to work together to build this structure, and coordinate with every group’s intervention so the project was in unison. In the end, we analyzed different measurements of time, descriptive geometry, properties of light and shadow, and architectonic relationships.  


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