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PHD-DESIGN  March 2013

PHD-DESIGN March 2013

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Subject:

Drawing as research

From:

Deborah Szapiro <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related research in Design <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 14 Mar 2013 09:17:15 +1100

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An argument for drawing as research - in case you ever need one:

On 14/03/2013, at 2:28 AM, Eduardo Corte-Real wrote:

> Dear Ken, Martin and  Lubomir
> Since this is a long post I'll put in some titles.
> 1. Monarchists or Republicans?
> First let me point out that Ken started by writing that "writing research requires words". It is very hard to contradict that writing requires words, they seem to be the very fabric of writing. It reminds me of monarchist friend of mine that wanted me to sign a petition against the first article of the Portuguese Constitution where it reads "the form of government in Portugal is Republican". I pointed out to this friend that the title of the document was "Constitution of the Portuguese Republic" so it would be only normal to have such first article only to remind the distracted ones about what they were reading.
> Another thing is to follow Martin's interrogations and try to understand the role of images in research and more specifically in Design research and how they can or should be 'instead' of words in research "writing".
> 
> 2. A Ruskin Darwin?
> I always thought that Charles Darwin must have been an excellent draughtsman. That he had watercolours and pencils in his Victorian luggage in HMS Beagle. That he would get out in the Galapagos armed with a sketch pad to fix the unimaginable variations in the form of Nature's creations. And returning to the oaky interior of his office in England, looking at the differences in the curves of beeks that he, himself had drawn, had the consequent epiphany of generating the most creative theory in natural history. But no, the method, far more Saxon, was to simply kill the beasts collect them and preserve them and bring them back to Britain to be stuffed or placed in flasks according to their nature.
> You can imagine my dismay. A Ruskin Darwin would make very much my case for drawing as an intellectual tool in research. What a pity... However, there is something in common in drawing and killing: you stop the bloody thing and you take your time to look at it. You observe! So, the Origin of Species by the means of natural selection and its uncanny subtitle "/or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life" /is a long argument based mostly on form or morphology. My wife bought David Quammen's Illustrated edition of the "Origin"and almost every paragraph can hold an illustration to substantiate Darwin's arguments. I dare to say that the "Origin" is a visual argument (written) with a written conclusion which is (as we all know) that variation (observable) is due to natural selection.
> So what all this has to do with design, or design research?
> 
> 3. Dunlap and the Pope.
> A few years before the publication of "The Origin", in 1834, William Dunlap published his "History of the rise and progress of the arts of design in the United States", a book made according to Vasari's Vite model, a book of biographies of engravers, painters, sculptors and architects. In its introduction, Dunlap writes that Design denotes in its strict sense merely "drawing". In the same decade the National Academy of Design was founded in New York and the Government School of Design was created in London. These are the first institutions to bare the name and are dedicated to teach, I would say, "how to make technical images of things to come", a special kind of drawings made to find its destiny in art or artefacts. Their concern was Beauty, visual beauty, able to be attained in the perseverance of graphic investigations to be confirmed by others: producers, manufacturers, buyers. With the Bauhaus(es), Truth become the thing to attain. Also through graphic but mostly plastic processes, objects truthful to their materials and use should be achieved. I think that this is the strongest paradigm in design education and, by logic extension to its higher level, to design research. If you design Assad from Syria you should design him looking like Peter Lorre in his most terrifying roles whereas the guy that designed Pope Benedict XVI looking like Yoda did a terrific job.
> 
> 4. Modernists and Cannibals
> When something called research entered in Design Education people forgot that research had been always conducted in Design Education by other means than scientific research. Some people assumed that if there should be requirements to produce Academic Research, that requirements should be the ones of scientific research forgetting (or not knowing) that there was an Academy of Design (Disegno) since 1563 and several others followed since then that had their own ways of research. The Modernist (rightfull) critique of Academic Education tried to erase and trivialize the enormous amount of knowledge production in the Academy of Arts.
> I was trained as an architect and trained to use drawing and other technical images as legitimacy for something to build. This was a research process that yes can follow Ken's nine points road map for research reports mostly through images (under our Portuguese architectural methodoxy, mostly through drawings) but also no, simply because Ken is not in charge. Because no one is in charge. Or better said, the field of design research is being constructed.
> One thing that should be our major concern would be that at some point design research would loose the design part of it.
> Design research should be built on the foundations of knowledge production existent in a rich tradition of design higher education and not being cannibalised by other kinds of research. This tradition was built on technical images. This is our challenge.
> 
> By the way, since Benedict XVI was mentioned, is there anyone interested in starting the field of Resign research?
> 
> Best regards,
> Eduardo
> 
> 
> -- 
> Eduardo C˘rte-Real
> Prof. Doctor
> IADE, Lisboa
> 
> 
> 
> -----------------------------------------------------------------
> PhD-Design mailing list  <[log in to unmask]>
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Deborah Szapiro
0407 249 693
[log in to unmask]


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