Erin GeeSwarming Emotional Pianos, Université Concordia, Montréal, 2013.
Photo : courtesy of the artist

Sketchy Machines: Propositions Around Three Robotic Artworks

Lindsay LeBlanc
Sketches signify a material state — something started but never finished, assertive in its failures and imperfections, and usually best kept brief, open-ended, and adaptable. The critical potential of the sketch as an intermediary between an idea and its physical realization is not limited to drawings.

We can also see the significance of the sketch in theatre, architecture, and literature. (It has its use in mathematics, too, but its meaning there is much more specific, and unrelated to the accepted meaning of the word in the arts.) And due to the recent growth of digital industry, and corresponding software such as Adobe’s suite of design tools and the 3D modelling program SketchUp, the sketch — which carries its meaning across different material forms — can now add digital production to its long list of applications. With the ongoing development of software that implements either the visual of the drawn sketch or the broader meaning of “sketch”in language, the bank of images associated with the word is evolving. Interestingly, when one Googles “sketch,” the first hit that comes up is the website for “a design toolkit built to help you create your best work — from your earliest ideas through to final artwork.” Clearly, even as we begin to sketch in new spaces and configurations, the drawing persists as its symbolic representation. If one restricts this Google search to images, the point is reinforced by the high proportion of drawings compared to other content. It’s clear that as sketch expands in its innate interdisciplinary form, it nonetheless remains wrapped up with the modernist vision of the artist’s hand putting pencil to paper.

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This article also appears in the issue 93 - Sketch
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