The design sketchbook: between the virtual and the actual

Gittens, Douglas (2014) The design sketchbook: between the virtual and the actual. In: Recto verso: redefining the sketchbook. Ashgate, Farnham, Surrey. ISBN 9781409468660

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The design sketchbook appears as an inherently fluid transient space, since it functions as an in-between liminal threshold portal through which creative intention can find its fix in the world. It presents an immanent field of potentiality whereby the virtual can find expression in the actual. The sketchbook is a permeable membrane wherein design potentialities transfer from the human imagination to the actual world by means of the kinetic action of pen on paper when perceived in such a way. Between its sheets it channels the virtual – the nearly as – into the world of ideas and objects, engaging the designer in a rediscovery of an imaginative network of ascribable possibilities. In turn, it enables the reclamation of a ‘virtuality’ of a kind quite other to the algorithmic ‘virtuality’ associated with digital design technologies, thereby realigning the virtual with the imaginative life of the designer.

This chapter explores the latent potential for the designers’ sketchbook to perform as a dynamic, interstitial phenomenon, through which it is possible to evidence Gilles Deleuze’s notion of the virtual and the actual. The contemporary use of the word ‘virtual’ almost exclusively binds its meaning to the world of digital technologies, becoming solely allied with the digital realm; its use reserved for describing virtual reality, virtual gaming, virtual friendships, virtual sex, virtual tourism, virtual communities, and so on. However, in referencing Henri Bergson’s theory of duration, Deleuze defines the virtual as a potentiality yet to be actualised, in essence the virtual is a real object only yet to be made material. For Delueze, the virtual is as real as the actual, for ‘The virtual is fully real in so far as it is virtual… Indeed, the virtual must be defined as strictly a part of the real object - as though the object had one part of itself in the virtual into which it plunged as though into an objective dimension.’

Through an examination of design praxis, this present chapter re-presents the sketchbook as an effective tool for formulating an alternate mode of a design-orientated process; a mode effecting a more instantaneous, vigorous, and intuitive engagement with the materialization of ideas, concepts, and new ways of thinking. Moreover, the chapter champions the significance of the term ‘virtual’ as a central part of sketchbook-praxis, reasserting both the original meaning of the word and its theoretical importance to Deleuzian philosophy.

Subjects:K Architecture, Building and Planning > K110 Architectural Design Theory
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K100 Architecture
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V360 History of Architecture
W Creative Arts and Design > W110 Drawing
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
Relation typeTarget identifier
ID Code:14248
Deposited On:05 Jun 2014 12:01

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