There are several levels on which we can approach this small series of drawings by Masahiko Yendo. Made at the same time as his celebrated projects published in Ironic Diversion, these virtuoso pencil drawings are lyrical visions of a harmonious meeting of human and natural worlds. In them the natural landscapes seem as constructed as the buildings seem to have grown and evolved through geo-tectonic processes. While they remain distinctly different from one another, the buildings and landscapes interact creatively, somehow dependent on each other. The drawings’ lyricism—their exaltation of form and texture and meaning—differentiates them from actual situations where industrial architecture pollutes virgin landscapes. Something in the drawings convinces us that they belong together, even though our experience insists that they do not. Here we touch on Yendo’s sense of the ‘ironic’ or, perhaps the paradoxical nature of reality, which emerges from contradictions that can only be resolved through art and the heightened sensibilities it inspires.
Of the many pathways these drawings open for exploration is that of drawing. I have no interest or intention of reopening old discussions of the pros and cons of hand versus computer drawings—they simply go nowhere. I’m willing to grant, for the sake of exploration, that one day a computer will be able to draw exactly like Masahiko Yendo. I repeat, exactly, with all the infinitely varied tonality and all the nuance of texture, shading, and illusion of light and darkness. For that to happen, of course, the pixels of the computer drawing would have to be infinitely small, creating the actual spatial continuity of the hand drawing. Assuming that this technological feat could be achieved, what difference would there be between the hand and the computer drawing?
Absolutely none—if we consider only the drawing itself, as a product, as an object, which—in our present society—is our habitual way of perceiving not only drawings, but also the buildings they describe.
I repeat: absolutely none. IF, however, we think of drawings—even the most seductively product-like ones shown here—as evidence of a process of thinking and making, the difference is vast. Indeed, there is no way to close the gap between them. In the hand-drawn image, every mark is a decision made by the architect, an act of analysis followed by an act of synthesis, as the marks are built up, one by one. In the computer-drawn image, every mark is likewise a decision, but one made by the software, the computer program—it happens in the machine, the computer, and does not involve the architect directly. In short, in the latter case, the architect remains only a witness to the results of a process the computer controls, learning only in terms of results. In the former case, the architect learns not only the method of making, but also the intimate connections between making and results, a knowledge that is essential to the conscious development of both.