Mark Ericson Reimagines Digital Tools through Drawing

Associate Professor Mark Ericson’s sabbatical research was recently featured on Drawing Matter, a website and private collection showcasing contemporary architectural drawings and work assembled in England over the past twenty-five years. Mark’s project, Onto an Epicycle of Cones, is part of a series that interrogates the orthographic drawing techniques of Guarino Guarini. The drawing translates his written and drawn instructions in the programming language of Python in the open-source platform of

Created by Niall Hobhouse, Drawing Matter is based on a farm in Somerset, England, and includes thousands of drawings and models dating from the Renaissance to the contemporary era. The collection focuses particularly on the role of drawing in the process of design. Drawing Matter is intended as a forum in which the architectural drawing is made more visible and available for discussion, supported by associated events and activities. Understanding drawing as a critical artistic practice in its own right, the website and forum centers on the idea that drawing is central to the conception of architecture.

The objective of the drawing and research in general, is to use historically and seemingly defunct modes of architectural drawing to reimagine digital tools. The drawing process is derived from Guarini’s technique for translating the geometry of three-dimensional vaults into two-dimensional stone cutting templates. Onto an Epicycle of cones begins with the projection of semi-circle onto the vertical section of a cone at its axis—a triangle. The circular or elliptical conic sections at each point of intersection with the triangle are measured and then used to locate the projection of the same intersections in top view. Variation and motion are then introduced to the drawing by changing the radius of the semicircle and the orientation and size of the cone over time, as well as using the epicycle model to displace the top view projection over time in three related epicycles rotating at varying rates.

Read more about Mark’s ideas on orthographic projection through the full feature.

Featured Image: Two-Dimensional Orthographic Projection of a Semicircle onto an Epicycle of Cone, Courtesy Mark Ericson