Friday’s tutorials with my post-graduate students from BSA introduced me to a new, influential figure in contemporary architecture. I met him some time ago, but until now hadn’t considered his importance.
Say hello to 2D_Man_Backpack:
He’s one of the default figures in the industry changing software, Google Sketchup. I’ve used him myself in models before, but it wasn’t until I started to see him appear in student’s work – in multiple locations across a model – that I realised what his key attribute was.
He’s entirely passive. Culturally, politically, ideologically, you name it, he hasn’t got a thing to say. He doesn’t have a single opinion about the spaces you force him to inhabit.
Is that a shirt or a roll-neck? Are those jeans or Farrar trousers? Hush Puppies or Merrells? Is he just passing by or will he stop and say/do something? Is the bag full of business or pleasure?
What’s he looking at and what does he look like? I can’t tell you because he’s programmed to always present this 2D surface to the camera. He doesn’t have the balls to look you in the eye. His glances bounce off your building without leaving an impression and with the seemingly unstoppable rise of Sketchup I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more of him.
The lack of people inhabiting spaces is a long standing criticism of architectural photography. Photographers will tell you it’s about long shutter speeds and the subsequent time-lapse blur, but let’s not deny the fact that many of us like to picture our creations before they get sullied by the one thing we can’t control. My building would be perfect, if only it wasn’t spoilt by the people using it.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. His ambivalence reminds me of the qualities I listed in the entry about the blackbeltjones sketch comparing figure drawing techniques: Architects vs. Interaction Designers. Keep your hands in your pockets.
Whilst the Letraset guys I uploaded during the Architectural Advent may not be politically correct in the 21st Century, one thing’s for certain, they’ve got an opinion and by gosh old chap, they’re going to tell you.
The most worrying realisation about this entry? From the back, 2D Man looks just like me.