31 October 2016

Notations + Diagrams: Mapping the Intangible (Stan Allen)

1. Allen writes, “a drawing that tries to simulate those effects [light and shadow, reflections, atmosphere, movement, etc.] will always fall short, freezing diminishing and trivializing the experiential complexity of the realized building” (p.45). He goes on to say that the notation, “which makes no attempt to approach reality through resemblance, is better able to anticipate the experience of the real” (p.45). 

Are there any examples where drawings are successful in simulating those effects? Regardless, is it even the drawing’s job/responsibility to simulate those effects? Why do you think Allen claims notations are better suited for conveying those effects?

2. Allen cites Goodman’s discussion of notations which he distinguishes between two types of art forms: the autographic and the allographic (p.45). He says painting and sculpture are autographic art forms, while music and dance are allographic art forms.

In your own words, what are the key qualities/aspects of each type of art form?

3. He later writes, that architecture is a mixture of both types, and is neither clearly allographic nor autographic (pg. 46).

Can you think of any examples of architecture/architectural representation that is more allographic than autographic or vice versa? Are there pros and cons of leaning more towards one type? If so, why or why not?

4. He compares and contrasts Diagrams and Notations. He says “reading a diagram is more or less instantaneous; there is an immediate apprehension of the relationships between the parts, while the process of reading a notational schema is more extend, unfolding in time, like reading a text or musical score” (pg. 50).

What are some instances where someone may use the diagram over the notation or the notation over the diagram? Does it make a difference? If so, how? If not, how not?

5. Allen also discusses Diagrammatic Architecture which he defines as, “part of a new sensibility characterized by a lack of interest in critique or the production of meaning, preferring instead immediacy, simple forms, direct accommodation of program, and the pleasures of the literal” (pg. 53).

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Diagrammatic Architecture? Will adopting Diagrammatic Architecture be inevitable in the future, given we live in a world that’s increasingly becoming more diagrammatic?

17 October 2016


1. In some of the larger examples of Sparklines, (i.e. “Bumps chart” that is a tally of women’s collegiate rowing contests at the University of Cambridge, England pg.56) are there ways to minimize the text further without losing comprehension of the Sparkline data? At what point do Sparklines begin to speak for themselves? Are smaller graphics embedded into the text more successful?


2. “Just as Sparklines are like words, so then distributions of Sparklines on a page are like sentences and paragraphs. The graphical idea here is make it word like and typographic…” pg.63

Would the adoption of Sparklines into architectural language be simple? Are there situations that Architects could face where Sparklines would not be beneficial to use? If so, what are they?


3. Tufte lays out a series of guidelines on how to design and produce Sparklines including: The Aspect Ratio, Dequantification, Production Methods, Unintentional Optical Clutter, Resolution of Sparklines, and Resolution of Layouts of Multiple Sparklines pg.60-63

Are there other factors that you can think of that would allow Sparklines to become an easier to adapt method of communication? What are they? Why do we not see data laid out in this format more frequently?


4. Tufte used examples of how Sparklines can communicate data within cartography, brain research, molecular biology, 16thc. engravings, sports statistics and economic/financial data. In what specific applications should Architects use Sparklines? (i.e. Client information sharing? Site Analysis?....)


5. “Why go to a special place to construct a data graphic? To lay out a report? Segregating information by its mode of production, convenient and profitable for software houses, too often becomes a corrupting metaphor for evidence presentations.” pg. 61

As aspiring Architects, we have access to many software programs that allow us to explore enormous amounts of data. Even with some overlap in capabilities, there are still, in many ways, separations of word, number, image and graph. How do we mitigate this moving forward?

16 October 2016


1.)    Referring to the two examples he provides at the beginning of the reading Tuft claims “comparisons are more effective when information is adjacent in space rather that stacked in time.” (pg. 81) Describe the differences between Dega’s Cheval a l arret “adjacent” comparison and Humphrey Repton’s Observations on the Theory and Practice and Landscape Gardening “stacked” comparison.
In your opinion, which is a more effective comparison? Why or Why not?

2.)    Tufte describes Peter Apian’s Cosmographicus liber as being “utterly flat and without dynamics, treating the sun, earth and moon as fixed cardboard cutouts rather than as three-dimensional objects moving in space” (pg. 86) Also claiming that “if the earth were represented as a cube it could cast the shadows shown in the scenes above” (pg. 86)
In your opinion, would this change make the diagram a more effective tool at proving the earth is indeed round? Why or Why not?

3.)    Tufte describes Robert Winter’s CD Companion: Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony No. 9 as asynchronized parallelism between the silent visual explanation on the screen combined with the sound of the music” (pg. 88)
What are some other examples that use technology to create similar synchronized parallelism (not exclusively between the visual and musical)?

4.)    When describing the cyclogram of Cosmonaut Georgi Grechko (pg. 92-95), Tufte fails to tell us the benefits the cosmonauts may have gained from these parallel methods of representing time.
What, if any, do you think these benefits could have been? Why bother if it was filled with “witless ploys that did not help much” (pg. 93)

5.)    Tufte describes “faulty parallelisms” citing Humphrey Repton’s Designs for the Pavillion at Brighton where Tufte claims that Repton shows “substantial embellishments quite beyond the scope of architectural work.” (pg. 102)
As architects we may on occasion contribute to these faulty parallelisms through our representations. What are the benefits/drawbacks to this in the professional environment?

09 October 2016

Comics and Storyboards

How can architects use comics to express their ideas? Where should these comics fall on the photo-realistic to abstract chart?

Should architects be cartooning their buildings, making projects more understandable through different cultures? Is that already happening with the current state of architecture? Is highly formed based architecture, like Frank Gehry achieving some sort of cartoonized architecture that’s more relatable across different societies?

Sometimes architects get away with creating renders from angles that would never be seen by the average person. Should architects be allowed to use these perspectives to tell the narrative of their projects?

Should we as architects be actively telling the stories of our designs and buildings, or should we be keeping the narrative completely open, allowing the reader to invent the narrative?

What do you find to be the most important part of a storyboard? The passage of time, entourage, the use of media (photography vs hand drawn), perspective?

The Narrative Armature

1. McCloud lightly talked about the difference between symbol and icon. Based upon the discussion from last week and today, what are some ways symbol and icon are different and similar?

2. How do you use iconic abstraction in everyday life? How does it help/not help?

3. By using this comic book way of writing, do you feel you understand the concepts McCloud is describing better than if it was written in paragraph format? Were you able to relate to the drawings? Please explain why this way of writing may or may not have helped to enforce the ideas.

4. Have you ever created a storyboard of any form? If so, what are some techniques you used to get your point across and why? (Did you use perspectives, montage, pictures, graphics)

5. What are some ways we (students) can use storyboards to help us in our projects? Do you think you might use storyboards as a part of the current project after this discussion? If so, why?

03 October 2016

Notes on the Index

Hey class, below are some questions for us to discuss during class on Tuesday.

1. In Krauss' writing the reader is first introduced to the concept of the 'shifter'.  In order to understand the term index, one must first understand the concept of shifter and how it relates to the index. How would you define the term shifter?

2.  In your own words how would you describe 'index' as portrayed in Krauss's writings?

3.  How do you think indexical signs relate to what we have learned about abstraction?  Is there any correlation between the two?

4.  Krauss explains various forms of art that entertain the concept of the index.  How do you think the notion of index applies to us as architects?

5.  We have talked a lot in previous classes about how abstraction and mapping can be beneficial to us as architects.  Do you think indexical signs provide any benefit in our everyday work as students or architects?

6. Krauss describes various example of an index, footprints in the sand, a shadow, multiple works of art. Can you think of any additional examples of an index?

7.  How would you differentiate the three terms: symbol, icon and index, which Krauss writes about in reference to photographs and paintings?  Is there a definite difference between the three?

8.  Krauss talks in great depth about paintings by Kelly and Pozzi.  Krauss states on page 216 the difference between the two styles of painting.  What makes Kelly's paintings shifters and Pozzi's paintings operations of the index?

9. In part 1 Krauss writes about the 'mirror stage'.  How does this relate to the concept of the shifter?

10.  Does the index relate at all to the process of mapping?  And if so how?