This is a drawing. It contains raw information in the form of generative data which, when processed, results in a specific instance of a physical object; that is an image. Much like an organism grows through instancing its genetic code, a dish is imaged by a chef through following a recipe, or a symphony is instanced by its players reading a score, an architect images a building from its construction document set. An organism cannot exist without DNA, the chef does not create a recipe by first eating the finished dish, a symphony does not write the score, nor does the architect create a construction document set by looking at a building. These examples illustrate that the drawing and the image are distinct, non-interchangeable, are not limited to their physical expression or media type, and a drawing must occur before it is imaged.

However, contemporary practitioners of architecture have called this relationship into question. Frank Gehry has inverted the drawing / image relationship with his Santa Monica Residence. Gehry began this project by experimenting with materiality and wrapping the building at scale, later translating those decisions into published architectural representation. Thus, the Santa Monica Residence, the finished building itself, is the drawing, the full-scale building contains the raw data from which orthographics are imaged then distributed.

Similarly, Peter Eisenman performs an inversion, then a doubling back upon itself, of the drawing / image relationship with House X. Eisenman forces the drawing back upon itself as its own image by intentionally constructing the image as an orthographic object. Thus, the imaged outcome is a drawing itself, which could in turn be used to produce a set of architectural documents retaining all its original raw information. For example, if one were to begin with Eisenman’s orthographic model one could photograph it, trace it, and produce an axonometric on paper. In this case both the documents and product are generative and contain all the raw data necessary to image one or the other, the drawings are the image, the images are the drawing and the relationship between them is folded into one.

However, neither of these examples are stable. If one were to build a duplicate Santa Monica Residence from the images produced by the drawing data of the original full-scale object the result would not be another drawing, it would be another instance, or image, just in a different medium. The actual Santa Monica Residence is the one, and only drawing as that is where the data was generated. Likewise, the simultaneous drawing/image existence of House X falls apart once the physical object is seen from any other angle than straight on, as it is no longer an axonometric with all the inherent data but is simply an image of an axonometric projection in-side view. Recent technological developments, such as AR / VR and 3D Scanning have allowed us to fill these holes, to close the drawing / image loop posited by Eisenman.

— Jon Gregurick, 2021

Gregurick, Jon. Harvard GSD, April 2021.

1.  Gregurick, Jon. Harvard GSD, April 2021.