Designing architecture is a corporeally-grounded practice of making drawings that augur future constructions. Drawings, like buildings, are co-constructors of subjectivity. Given the importance of drawing and the body in this formulation, imag(in)ing embodiment through drawing is crucial for discovering architectural possibilities which arise from and address feeling, embodied subjects.
Drawn images of the human body—inherently constructive, physical, and steeped in epistemes—have a long tradition as generators and calibrators of designs. In my past work, I have put forward the idea of ‘body agents’— representations of dynamic, personal, humorous, non-ideal figures that draw from architectural history— to address radically new conditions in architecture, subjectivity, and embodiment brought about by a posthuman condition. Incorporated into architectural drawings as meta-inhabitants, these figures gave visibility to this new condition and enacted it in the design process.
Body agents are a species of cyborg. It could be argued, following Katherine Hayles, that the cyborg is now an antiquated vision; current technology saturates our lifeworld and bodies, at times through the prosthetic attachments that are a signifying element of the cyborg, but perhaps more crucially, ubiquitously and nearly invisibly, through altering our sensorium and integrating our consciousness into vast networks. These developments have changed our conceptions of the conditions that constitute embodiment; the body’s scale, boundary, physicality, and interiority are no longer fixed.
My work with body agents engaged the representation of subjects from the outside, as fantastic posthuman actors in architectural space. In my recent series of ‘Agent Body’ drawings, I consider the posthuman body from the inside-out. While for the most part body agents, tied to the domain of NURBS and meshes in architectural and animation software, were hollow meshes— literally bodies without organs— the embodiment captured by the hand-crafted drawings is more akin to the notion of organs without bodies. The depicted assemblages of particularities including machinic and corporeal parts, architectural notations and looney-tunes-esque cartoon forms are meant to evoke and fascinate.
Drawing is an absorbing and physically engaging activity where feelings can be teased out. Each image evolves with unexpected results; as I work, I grow more familiar with the media and the depicted systems that comprise the image. I aim to maintain an ambiguity of scale and an incompleteness of form to allow for a shifting series of mise en abymes, where the drawing could present a convoluted space, a vast or miniscule object, a strange body or perhaps a vast construction. Through this oscillatory perception in which the drawing alternately conjures an interior or exterior, object or space, large scale or diminutive, I hope to fluidly move through unstable boundaries from the interior of the body to the exterior of architecture in order to create images that explore underlying questions: How does it feel to be posthuman? How can it be imagined? What spaces and constructions does it give way to? What is the architectural space implied by this body? And what is still human about it?