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SSCE, Day 5: Ultimate Drafting Challenge and Toy Sculptures

July 4, 2010


I present to you: the battlefield.

It is here that war is waged on the physical and mental fronts as the soldiers fight relentlessly to complete their first mission — a completed drafting.  As fatigue and hunger slowly set in on the morning of day five, we can see the battlefield is strewn with the remnants of mighty clashes and extraordinary victories.  The sheets of vellum scattered about offer a view of the individual skirmishes; faint pencil marks are the only remains of errant lines vanquished under the blow of the mighty white eraser.  The war, however, is not yet won.  The road ahead lies deep with anguish as supplies begin to run low and morale suffers under the glare of the ever-glowing desk lamps and laptop screens.  Fear not, for we will prevail.  We have trained long and hard (well, not really) for the final battle ahead; and with our superior t-squares at our sides we cannot be defeated.

Perhaps it is fate that Sunday is the 4th of July, and we will once again be fighting for our freedom; not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution — but from the bonds of studio work.

We’re fighting for our right to enjoy fresh air, to have a weekend.

And should we win the day, the 4th of July will no longer be  known as an American holiday, but as the day when the SSCE studio declared in one voice:

“We will not go quietly into the night!

We will not vanish without a fight!

We’re going to live on!

We’re going to survive!”

Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!

::Wild cheers and applause::

Okay, that last, overly-dramatic part I stole (and reworded) from one of my favorite movies, but you get the idea.

Our first drafting project has become somewhat of a challenge, especially due to the limited time constraints we are under and the amorphous shape of what should be a well-defined project.  In our second drafting class of the week we returned to examine our individual progress on the draftings of the High Line Park, with our professor, Aaron, and our T/A, Magnus, looking over our shoulders as we worked.   We all, of course, needed a great deal of help.  Some of us were having issues with dimensions, with the spacing of the drawings on the page, or a host of a thousand other things that can go wrong on a hand drafting.

That’s the one thing about hand-drafting: a mistake is not simply a matter of pushing the “delete” key.  I had to redraft the entire sheet so that I could properly fit everything on one page as well as fix a few mistakes that were too heavy-handed to be erased.  There is a great deal of finesse involved with this type of work; a light hand being one of the more important skills to master.  I have learned that lesson the hard way in past drafting classes so I know how to handle this type of work, but when a drawing is highly complex certain larger mistakes can be hastily overlooked.

Nonetheless, we all continued to make progress on our drawings throughout the morning, with some working through lunch, until our Studio class began in the afternoon.

In Studio we returned to revisit our High Line paper-and-string interpretations from the last class and discuss them in further detail.  Since we had only glazed over the individual projects during the all-studio presentation it was nice to return to them to get more personalized feedback from our group.  Again, we discussed the form and function of each of the individual projects, and in the process came across a set of strategies for more effectively communicating our design intent in future projects.  For instance, one of the criticisms I received was my use of multiple mediums to represent the same (or similar) things.  My project could have been improved, and made more clear, by using a single medium (i.e. either the string or the paper) to define my analysis of the movement of people through the park.

As a side note, we also came into a discussion about the use of constructive criticism and how to best manage it, and our professor, Eva, brought up a really important point.  She emphasized the importance of removing yourself from the work when receiving criticism in order to best understand how to improve the work.  In other words, the intention with criticism is not to personally attack someone, but to offer objective insight into the work.  I actually happened to be presenting my work at the time of this discussion (not that I was the reason for it), and after the advice sunk in I found I was better able to see my work more objectively and dissect it more efficiently.  It’s amazing what a small shift in thinking can do for your productivity!

After the discussions we began discussing our second assignment, a study in quantities as a tool for communicating an idea.  The goal of the project is to amass a collection of small, inexpensive, preferably biodegradable items to somehow join or connect together without using a bonding agent.  The purpose behind it is to transcend the individuality of the materials being used in order to create or represent a larger idea.  This is accomplished, of course, by using hundreds, or even thousands, of the same item to sculpt a three-dimensional object.  I chose two materials to test out, both of which I found at the local discount store: green army men, and a thousand-piece puzzle.

I, no question about it, dug right in to experimenting with the green army men, joining and connecting them in different ways (and placing a few strategically around my desk to stand guard).  This sculpture is what I came up with.  It was fun trying to figure out the best ways to weave the little plastic toys together to create it.  I have to admit, though, I did feel a bit like the character “Sid” from the first Toy Story movie – mutilating childrens’ toys using sharp tools.  Anyway, I played a bit with the puzzle pieces I bought as well, but they weren’t as cooperative as the army men.  It’s funny: the pieces fit well together when laid out like they’re supposed to, but in any other combination they don’t seem to want to work together.  For instance, I couldn’t slot two pieces into each other because the paper construction of the pieces would fold out and give way.  Oh, the problems we  have to solve in art school.  I am supposed to have at least three tests of three different materials after the weekend, so I expect a lot more experiments in my future.

Otherwise I am looking forward to a bit of a break from work and, hopefully, a chance to enjoy the country’s finest fireworks display this weekend.  Happy 4th!


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