TrAC (translated autoCAD commands)

Christopher Egervary

TrAC is a series of critical devices that explore the relationship between analog and digital drafting, forcing the user to think about the act of drawing as both manual and assisted through the physical translation of fundamental autoCAD functions.

The TrAC mechanisms are five devices that explore the relationship between the hand and the computer through an analysis and comparison of the actions of both. Each TrAC is derived from a series of operations, isolating a specific fundamental autoCAD drawing function (.line .offset .rotate .circle .spline), defining the actions both the hand or computer would take in the creation of that function, and mechanically recreating it. TrAC explores each act of drawing as something that exists in many realms, mind, page, hand, and computer. Through this distillation an interest in the act of drawing is fostered both in the physical actions and its new digital counterparts and responses.

in addition to some initial research into the current state of the drafting environment in architectural education, an extended exploration of the history of computer drawing and drafting and the technologies that allowed these softwares to come about is necessary. a detailed comparison of the pros and cons of both hand and computer drafting techniques along with experimentation with various drawing mechanisms and devices and explore how they function to determine the inherent relationships between what is and can be hand drawn and the functions that a computer can to to improve a drawing. i plan to run tests along with all of these experiments with other people (especially architects and drafters), and explore options of installation locations, potentially working with an architecture school allowing the piece to exist in a location where a healthy discussion can develop.

i initially wanted to explore this relationship between had and computer drafting in a very analog manner. not only was i coming from a point of view that weighed the hand more heavily than the computer, but i also thought it would be a good avenue to distill out some of the specifics of digital drafting. i also wanted to avoid a programed device in order to avoid the same thing that i am addressing with my project, the over use and subsequent reliance on the computer. another aspect of my project that i wanted to be able to explore through physical devices was the actual physicality of them, the process of constructing mechanical devices in order to produce an artistic result. this required a series of studies exploring the posibilites of various mechanisms and mechanical systems to find the ones that could produce what i was looking for. it was really a two sided process, one in which i went back and forth between studying what was going on in the software and how i could physically replicate that, in effect the design process mirrored what my goal was for the project to instill in a viewer. after working through different studies and talking to my peers within itp and the architectural world, my project began to take shape as a distillation of the autoCAD functions that i was exploring and in the process exploring the relationship between digital and analog drafting.

at this stage i see TrAC as a project in a state of flux. after working through this process i have realized that it is probably a much larger project then i originally saw it as. i now feel that there could be at least three components, the one i have completed here is the first, exploring the physical relationship between analog and digital drafting. i can see the potential for a similar but process being done through a very different lens, a digital exploration of this same relationship, and there is even the opportunity to explore the physical interfaces that we now draw with digitally (the keyboard, the mouse), in much the same way that TrAC explored the functions themselves. there is also the potential for these two worlds to collide (in fact it might be critically important for them too in the long run) in the production of a series of physically distilled controls for specific functions.
this project has been a great learning experience for me during all phases. the initial research i did on digital drafting opened up my own understanding of the processes and make up of the software. i also discovered many aspects fo the software that i was either not aware of myself or had just never used. this projects also allowed me to explore my interests in fabrication and some new interests of mine in mechanics. this also proved difficult at times. through a lot of the construction process i had to make many adjustments to allow the devices to produce the results i was looking for, resulting in a constant back and forth between my designs and the actual fabrication of the components of the devices.