October 22, 2013

Parametric Drawing and Diagramming Workshop At CCA

Last Saturday at California College of the Arts, Andrew Kudless and I co-taught a one-day workshop on parametric drawing and diagramming. The premise of the workshop was to explore ways of using Grasshopper’s parametric functionality to produce evocative two-dimensional drawings. The intent was to see if there’s a territory somewhere between Revit (robustly parametric yet very conventional and biased), Illustrator (graphically powerful but almost entirely manual / devoid of parametric control), and Processing (incredibly powerful but text-based) in which Grasshopper’s visual interface can allow one to experiment with architectural convention (lineweight, color, hatching, etc.) in a systematic, rule-based, manner. 

The impulse for the workshop came out of a shared interest of mine and Andrew’s in generative design and conceptual art of the 1960s and 1970s, which often utilized parametric and algorithmic principles in an analog manner. We drew from precedents like Sol Lewitt, Agnes Martin, and Tara Donovan, but also from more contemporary computational designers like Casey Reas and Andrew Heumann, whose Human plugin proved very useful in testing some of these ideas. It was a quick workshop, but lots of fun; I’m hoping we can continue exploring these techniques more in the future.

The workshop consisted primarily of demos and tutorials, looking at case studies of procedural art and attempting to “reverse engineer” them as parametric systems in Grasshopper. We ended the day with a brief 1-hour charrette in which the students rapidly generated some of their own 2D experiments. Here are some of the projects:

What say you?