Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Political Implications of Map Drawings on the Middle East

Dr. Ami J. Abou-bakr
King's College London

The political changes seen throughout the Middle East and North Africa this year have caused many academics and policy makers to reflect seriously on the primary geo-political, cultural, religious and ethnic drivers of conflict and unrest in the region. One of these underlying causes of tension derives from the way the States in the modern Middle East were mapped (drawn) in the early part of the 20th Century. This conference, with its title of "Crossing the Line" and its focus on drawing in the Middle East and cross-disciplinary understanding, offers a unique opportunity to explore how the (mis)drawing of lines on maps significantly contributed to much of the unrest in the modern Middle East.

This paper will briefly explore the drawing of the state of Iraq and the mapping of the state of Israel (including ongoing border disputes between the Israelis and the Palestinians) to highlight how a seemingly innocent two-dimensional drawing can have lasting multi-dimensional political consequences.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sounding waves: Drawing into the mind's eye.

Maryclare Foa

                  In this paper I will propose that through a trans-disciplinary practice encompassing performance, sonar, mapping and the spoken word, it is possible that the invisible waves present in our environment might be revealed and interpreted as drawings. And that these drawings do indeed cross boundaries because they are free from any surface confined by no border, transient, in constant motion, and although sometimes visualised with technology, they are most often perceived in the mind's eye.

Firstly through text interspersed with moving and still images I will describe how I have come to understand sound as a method of drawing that maps, measures and reveals the condition of place. I will also define how place and practitioner interact through sonic reflection, and I will introduce my practice, in which I use sound as a drawing method to converse with the outside environment.

I will then go on to expand this concept encompassing a broader array of invisible yet distinguishable waves that exist in our environment. Tracking their routes with recorded material, the spoken word, and song, I will perform into the listeners' mind's eye, a lattice that exists through the environment comprising the routes of the wind, migratory flyways, and radio and satellite signals. I will also draw a sonic map of Dubai. And in so doing I will propose that; more than producing a vector [route or course] of thought, because performance employing sound can conjure those vectors into images (unbound by border or dimension) for the mind's eye, then the presentation in itself can be perceived as a method of performing a drawing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Back to the drawing board

Kelly Chorpening  
Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts, London

In ‘Back to the drawing board’ I will discuss the role contemporary drawing could have in today’s Middle East through a discussion informed by my own experience as an artist and researcher, and as a lecturer of drawing to artists and non-artists alike.


Since 2006 I have run the BA Drawing course at Camberwell College of Arts. The course sits within the fine art programme of subjects, and as you might expect, involves life drawing, observational perspective and orthographic projection, but also provides forays into the ways disciplines such as dance, choreography, medicine, architecture, history and philosophy use and identify with drawing. Drawing does not belong to art— it’s a fundamentally human act— so its exemption from the struggle more archetypal subjects such as painting have with their own histories, enables a distinctly outward-looking approach to creativity. Drawing effectively provides a passport to explore its uses across a range of professions. Skills of analysis are developed as much through the translation of the real world into line, as the questioning of how the stakes of such activities have changed over time.

Back to the Drawing Board

‘Back to the drawing board’ is a phrase used when it’s time to start again. In this lecture I would like to free the drawing board from its associative endgame of failed achievement in order to describe its location at the edges of discipline— one could even describe it as a pre-disciplinary place— in order to celebrate it as a place for innovation, where thoughts and ideas are brought into existence. The drawing board is a set of conditions that enable practitioners from across cultures and professions alike to work together and share ideas.

In this context, the drawing board becomes a destination that enables the speculation of an idea, where the speculation is made valid through the inherent directness, accuracy and precision of the medium. Ideas are given substance, and are able to suggest convincing possibilities without the limiting preoccupation with their use-value. In a time when the primacy of vocational disciplinarity has had a negative impact on innovation, could drawing invigorate, and possibly create new modes of practice?

In fine art, a refreshing characteristic of contemporary drawing exhibitions is how they tend to disrupt art historical categories.

Beyond Visual

Brian Dougan

Associate Professor of Architecture at
The American University of Sharjah College of Architecture, Art, and Design

Once upon a time I was a prolific drawer. I drew for many reasons, but I drew mostly because time invested in drawing revealed something about the world that I did not know. Drawing is a dependable tool to decipher enigma. I have not misplaced the curiosity that persuaded me to be prolific. I am still a drawer. Drawing is my way to investigate, to scrutinize, and to simply think about those things of the world and those things not yet born to the world. I rely on drawing instruction when I am in need of information.

Despite conventional wisdom and excessive antidotal discourse, drawing is not a visual phenomenon. Drawing beyond the visual cliché is best understood in its relations to other activities. I will take this opportunity to draw a comparison between making pottery and making drawings. I will unwrap the following three ideas to illustrate the rapport.


"Centering: that act which precedes all others on the potter's wheel. The bringing of the clay into a spinning, un-wobbling pivot, which will then be free to take innumerable shapes as potter and clay press against each other. The firm, tender, sensitive pressure which yields as much as it asserts. It is like a handclasp between two living hands, receiving the greeting at the very moment that they give it..."

from "Centering - In Pottery, Poetry, and the Person" by M.C. Richards


"I do not accept any absolute formulas for living. No preconceived code can see ahead to everything that can happen in a man's life. As we live, we grow and our beliefs change. They must change. So I think we should live with this constant discovery. We should be open to this adventure in heightened
awareness of living. We should stake our whole existence on our willingness to explore and experience."

from "I and Thou" by Martin Buber


I have learned that what I have not drawn, I have never really seen... from "Zen Seeing Zen Drawing" by Frederick Franck 

This world in which we reside is among other things, distracting. Its pace is not conducive to the sort of focus or temporal surrender that is necessary to see. Such an investment, especially among the youth is an exception to the way we usually manage our time. 

Franck loved to quote Zen master Hui Neng, "The meaning of life is to see."


artworks by Brian Dougan

Friday, November 4, 2011

“The Wave-Breaker” - a novel approach to computer aided design (CAD) representation.

Aurel von Richthofen

Assistant Professor for Architecture and Computer Aided Design
German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech)

wave-breaker, plan 1D, etching 25x17 cm


Architectural drawings, such as design sketches, plans, sections, axonometrics and perspectives, underwent a dramatic shift since the advent of computer aided design (CAD) tools. While most CAD tools reproduce conventional drafting methods, they tend to be reductive in their programmatic rigidity. Users are forced into a linear and predefined design process and often frustrated by the lack of haptic feedback. The structural complexity of CAD programs often obscures the underlying generative methods.

In search for novel methods of CAD application - presented in the sketches, drawings and plans for the “Wave-breaker” project (Land Art / Installation Proposal, Muscat 2011) - I developed a series of methods and tools to overcome the aforementioned shortcomings of standard CAD. Boundaries of drafting software are expanded by introducing scripting and coding. The expression of data (text and numbers) inside the drawing aims to re-introduce the haptic quality of conventional drawing. A procedural approach of layering graphic elements and data with a constant visual update empowers the designer/programmer to harness the computational power of CAD applications.

wave-breaker, plotted data 2D, etching 25x17 cm

The “Wave-breaker” project challenges conventional architectural drafting methods as it is a landart and landscape installation. The project narrates the story of seemingly abandoned industrial artifacts (the concrete precast wave-breakers) in a desert landscape. It combines the technical precision of construction documents with the poetry and fragility of landscape drawings. Plan nor section suffice, rather a map of layers of information – landscape, artifacts, data – form the new digital environment. The underlying code regulates distribution, arrangement and rotation of the objects. 

wave-breaker, virtual model, software Rhinoceros 3D

Aurel von Richthofen is an architect, researcher and teacher invested in parametric design and cybernetic urbanism. Aurel grew up in Berlin and Geneva. He studied architecture at ETH Zurich and at Princeton University. He is the principle of aurelVR registered architects in Berlin. Aurel von Richthofen was Visiting Assistant Professor at the Ohio State University in Columbus Ohio and lecturer at the FTH Berlin and TU Berlin. Since fall 2010 Aurel is Assistant Professor for Computer Aided Design and Architecture at the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech).