Interstices 11 (Under Construction)

The Traction of Drawing

August 4, 2009

Call for Papers

Missing Image – Marcus Occulata, Anrea Alciato (1546) Emblematum Libellus

Interstices Under Construction Symposium: The Traction of Drawing

University of Auckland, 13-15 November 2009

Keynote speaker: Prof Marco Frascari, Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism
Carleton University, Ottawa

Why raise the issue of drawing again? With the proliferation and maturation of digital technologies, what is the use of the hand and the traces it makes on clay, stone, wood or paper? This symposium seeks to examine the technologies of drawing – their marks, lines, scratches, furrows, incisions, touches, dots and dashes, inscriptions, string lines, stains and blotches; pencilled, inked, chalked, brushed, illuminated or erased on diverse grounds.

What is made in the acts of drawing comes into being through the sapience of a facture, not through any Cartesian process of mathème. Conceived thus, drawing is wholly based on an intimate knowledge of material manifestations, within which tangible lines become carriers of fluid and invisible links that guide intangible thought.

Pulling in pieces of geometry, geology, alchemy, philosophy, politics, biography, biology, mythology, and philology from alien territories, one should write and draw with hesitation, discovering the multiple aspects of graphesis, a generative graphic process understood in its slow making. The fruitful vagueness of graphesis comes from the ambiguity embodied in the Latin spell: nullo dies sine linea, where linea (line), a heuristic device, must be understood as a line of writing, as a line in a drawing, or as the pulling of a line on a construction site. Architecture results from their miscegenation: images are written and words are drafted; cultural events and material expressions cross. Graphesis is a course of actions, the factures which actualize future and past.

The quality and selection of the ink’s luminosity, graphite’s fatness, watercolour’s lightness, tempera’s density, the screen’s pixellation, the flexibility or rigidity of supports … readers of the drawings indirectly see and savour them all. They foster “inferences from facture”, an extremely productive procedure.[1] To consider an artefact in terms of its facture is to consider it as a record of its own having been made. Drawings’ signifying power is in the liturgy of their making, which generates an aura that can be intuited by maker and reader simply by casting a glance.

Drawing as tool, technique and technology exteriorises the mind and emotions; it makes present the invisible. Drawing as a forecasting, predictive medium aims at a destination; it has a scope and end, it designates. Projecting, throwing forward orthogonal or oblique lines, it can sever, as in sections and plans. In draughting, as an act of thought, drawing seeks enactment: the making of lines which instruct further making in implementation. Or it translates: from drawing to building and building to drawing. In sketches, outlines, and studies we may pursue an allusive idea through the traction of lines. The formative force of an idea, emanating from the body as from the mind, seeks ever greater precision, often in successive drafts or erasures. Conversely, gestures, traces or tracks of the line can be eventful, punctuate flows like notation in music, or regulate flows like a programme or grammé.

Such are the issues this symposium seeks to examine and to which we invite you to contribute.

The symposium will be held on 13-15 November 2009 at the Design Theatre, School of Architecture and Planning, The University of Auckland, 22 Symonds St, Auckland. The final programme is now online.

Students, academics and practitioners will present their investigations in 20 minute papers. Abstracts received have been double-blind refereed and those accepted are available on the Interstices website (

In December, the symposium will be followed by a Call for Papers with the same theme, to be published in issue  11 of Interstices: A Journal of Architecture and Related Arts[2] in 2010.

We look forward to your contribution!

[1] David Summers, Real Spaces: World Art History and the Rise of Western Modernism, London, Phaidon. 2003. Facture is the Latin past participle of facio, facere, meaning both to make and to do: “fact” and “facture” are closely related.

[2] Interstices: A Journal of Architecture and Related Arts received an “A” in the Australian Research Council’s Journal Ranking Exercise 2009.