I have produced this drawing in direct response to the advice that I should formally explore the spatial production of my chosen condition in Hackney Wick (that of the hibernating Ice Cream Vans…), in order to complement the informal reading of the condition conducted here.
I am interested in how the van and its operative intervene temporarily in a given space, influencing the spatial relationships between individuals and groups and between those ‘actors’ and their environment. For example, when the van comes to rest in a given spot, that spot temporarily becomes a ‘shop’ under the influence of codes relating to commerce, exchange and service. Etiquette also comes into play as queues are formed, bringing with them the associative baggage of social conduct and public behaviour – the things we do in queues are given a space in which to manifest themselves. The way that queue forms – its size, shape and density – are a product of the van and the environemnt in which it sits temporarily, framed by the van’s chimes. The production of a certain type of (coded) ‘space’ is both initiated and terminated by a music signal – a code of transformation and temporal change.
What else can be given a temporary lease of life? What spatial relationships can form or be transformed by the passing and pausing of objects and people? Can you release architecture for a limited time only?
Producing this drawing has also been an exercise in production. At a new school I am exposed to new working methods, often using a combination of tools with which some I am familiar and some I am not. In this example, I was able to find a detailed model of an ice cream van in Google Sketchup’s 3D Warehouse, slice it up using section planes (also in Sketchup) and then export a line drawing of a particular perspective view in DWG format (after using Sketchup’s ‘Styles’ window to give me a clean, linework view of the model). I could then open this line drawing in Adobe Illustrator, giving me ‘vectors’ that I could clean up (this process innevitably produced excess linework) and assign stroke weight and colours to. The advantage of using Illustrator over a straight 2D Graphic export to Photoshop is that the image is scalable without losing and resolution (it works using vector rather than raster images). Illustrator is also great for assembling multiple images (in PSD, PDF, JPEG…whatever format) into a single ‘collage’. It’ll update those images as you alter the originals too, so its great at providing a ‘working drawing’ that evolves in real time as you refine it. I used a combination of linework in Illustrator, exporting it to Photoshop to add colour and textures before re-importing it to Illustrator for final assembly. In Illustrator you can also ‘trace’ photographs of people (by importing the photograph, drawing a path using the pen tool on a separate layer and then deleting the photograph) to give you scalable scale figures. Printing out base drawings (such as the plan view of the ice cream van) at a reasonable scale enabled me to draw in context (such as paving or verges) quicker by hand than I could produce a decent looking image digitally. Upon scanning that hand drawn image back into the computer, I could also easily reposition it around the digital linework due to the virtue of it having been traced.
The use of Adobe Illustrator (which I had not touched prior to coming to Sheffield) and a hybrid way of working (constantly flipping between my hands and various pieces of software) was the new bit for me in all of this – something I hope to continue and improve in this Studio.