Projective Visualization: A Widespread Design Tool

Projective Visualization: A Widespread Design Tool

Luigi Cocchiarella (Politecnico di Milano, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0029-2.ch012
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We will basically deal with three issues. Firstly, talking about visualization in relation to Design seems to be matter of the present era while talking about projection mostly pushes our feelings back to the past, despite even advanced digital visualizations are projection-based, or better, they are projective visualizations. Secondarily, these projective visualizations are not only mere supports to show design results but, mainly, they are irreplaceable thinking-and-operational tools for design development. Third, given their semantic wideness, these visualizations work as very customized tools in the various branches of Architectural, Engineering, or Product Design and so forth, as we also discussed in a cycle of seminars on The Visual Language of Technique Between Science and Art organized by the author during the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Politecnico di Milano (Cocchiarella, 2015). Last, in order to connect the abovementioned issues we will remark the combined power of Geometry and Graphics, friendly called The Ghost and The Ghost-Buster and their roles over time.
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Introduction: Visualization Vs Projection

In order to understand the deep relationship between visualization and projection a quick look at the history could offer a helpful start. Since the pre-projective graphs in the caves, indeed, a strong aim at outlining recognizable figures arises. We are not mentioning symbols and abstract signs here, but visually recognizable profiles of animals, human beings, natural elements, landscapes, and so forth. In other words, all those intentionally realistic figures that tend to show, as better as possible, the world as it was in that pre-historical time. Well, aiming at graphically replacing by visual analogy the visual perception, we can somehow consider them as unconsciously implicit projective representations, since the vision itself is based on a projective process, as Euclid would have later on demonstrated in the treatise Optiks (III century BC). In this way, we can recognize projective evidences in all our visual experiences, either looking at the real space, or looking at projective or at pseudo-projective images, and even at all those non-projective forms of representation like symbols, schemes, diagrams, and any type of writing that we excluded a few lines before. All the languages that use visual signs, in fact, need light to appear, more precisely, from a purely sensory point of view, they need light rays reflected by graphic signs to be intercepted by our pupillary hole, working as a collector, and to reach the retina onto the internal surface of our ocular bulb. This travel and its final destination establishes the geometric principle of projection/section, where the first is related to the linear travel of light, the latter to the impact of the light rays on the sensory cells of the retina. As we know, this impact sensitizes the cells generating visual stimuli and the following generation of images in the brain. Of course we understand that no one can work without the other: in fact, without a projection no impacts are possible, as well as without a sectioning surface, the travel of light could never stop and therefore no image could be generated. Together with this, we can also understand the importance of the light collector, that is, of the pupillary hole in the eye as well as of the hole in a stenoscope, of the lens in a photo camera or in a video camera, or of a geometrical point in the projective theory, in a nutshell, of the center of projection (Pirenne, 1970).

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