From the Origin of Drawing to Cinemetrics

Main Article Content

Cheng-Luen Hsueh


Robin Evans in his article “Translations from Drawing to Building” explores the gap and transitive
properties between architectural drawing and building (1997, p186–187). He concludes with some
questions arising from the allegorical painting by Giacinto Brandi depicting a portrait of a courtesan holding a divider. In contrast to the architect/geometer in William Blake’s painting “Ancient of Days” which from the architect’s point of view relates more to conventional measurement, precision, perfection, and also projection, the Giacinto painting may tell a story of architecture’s mediation and negotiation in-between drawing and building under the prejudice or shelter of these big conventions upheld by a God-like character.  The divider is a beginning instrument for me, as a designer not as a historian, to explore new ways of design thinking by measuring, scaling, and navigating between representational systems. To free architecture from the prison of the current fi xed forms of representation, Brian McGrath and Jean Gardner introduced the new ‘Cinemetrics’ drawing system that embodies relational thinking and engages architects with space, movement, and social interaction in the making of new architecture (2007). This paper demonstrates the results of testing Cinemetrics as a post-perspectival, cinematically inspired drawing system in several international workshops. Cinemetrics relational and contextual thinking with open-ended feedback loops is analyzed in relation to Chinese culture and philosophy, which has been ‘lost’ completely in the teaching of modern architecture. This essay concludes with the notion that a discussion of Asian modernity should be grounded in the way we draw, by bringing forward aspects of Chinese cultural myths on the origin of drawing as a means of understanding architectural representation, bridging the gap between drawing and the real world, Chinese tradition and modern representational systems.

Article Details

How to Cite
Hsueh, C.-L. (2011). From the Origin of Drawing to Cinemetrics. Nakhara : Journal of Environmental Design and Planning, 7, 127–138. Retrieved from
Review Articles