After the challenges of learning the beginnings of CAD, at the end of last week I was back in my comfort zone taking photographs. This time of the inside of the building focusing on a number of spaces which are for hire including conference, meeting and training rooms.

I’m back learning CAD tomorrow and have looked over my erratic and nonsensical notes. I’m hoping when faced with the program I will remember what we learnt last week, i seem to remember it all starts with ‘starting a sketch’.


A line has three things: 2 end points and the line itself

This was my first day learning Computer Aided Design which I have never done before. Derek, the engineering manager was teaching me and Paul, a tenant at Hethel. It’s seems a complex programme as they all do until you get the hang of them however I find I don’t visualise in 3 dimensions in the way engineers and designers do and so need a fair bit of help. Derek is asking me to consider my design intention, which i am considering could be a variation on a creative intention but in this context means making everything intentional. I’m not sure if there is a place for the accidental/unintended here as there is in art practice. The objects I made in CAD were rather small due to my brain working in cm and the programme working in mm – which i suppose was me trying to be intentional and still making mistakes.

There is a whole new vocabulary with this software and the engineering approach which is really interesting and is making me think about all kind of things in new ways. There are words and phrases which take me back to secondary school maths and technical drawing classes (some 20 years back) and some which are completely new to me…. tangents, adding relations forces conditions onto lines, features, extrude Boss/Base, referencing the origin, restraints, planes and surfaces…. Best piece of vocabulary from the day was from Derek, ‘infinite thinness’ describing something which had well …..infinite thinness.


Workpages started

I document my research and practice process meticulously using workpages which are usually compiled into workbooks but also available as individual pages. I hand draw each page using traditional copying materials. I’m exploring ideas of editioning these books and if there should be one hand drawn master version with the rest being prints (photocopies) or if they should all be hand drawn.

The press release written for the project includes information about the new Digital Design and Manufacturing Centre due to open at Hethel in May.


Site visit

The intention of the site visit today was to document the architecture of the building. Focusing on only the exterior I became interested in how the landscape is reflected in the materials used.

The Hethel building sits in a large plot, with fields on 3 sides and a road to the front. There are other buildings around but some distance away, Lotus Cars, farms and a few houses are its closest neighbors. It’s a total contrast to the industrial scenes depicted in Lowery’s paintings, where buildings are packed together and people stream towards a factory entrance at the beginning of the working day.

I’m considering the ideas of new industrial space which I have been reading about in Manuel Castells book The Rise of the Network Society. He discusses the changes that have occurred in manufacturing through the integration of new technologies. I’m thinking Hethel is a new type of industrial space and when did engineering make the transition to using digital technologies.

Manuel Castells The Rise of the Network Society (Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell 2010)


Meetings and start dates

The project started on Monday with a meeting in London. Discussing the conceptual basis of the project, ideas about exhibition venues and research papers with Helen Sloan from SCAN was a great way to kick things off. The conversation flowed as I emptied my brain about all the connections, connotations and relationships between the residency focus and my research. Helen put forward ideas and contexts for me to consider. It was a good start to the project.

Tuesday found me at a meeting at Hethel Engineering Centre (www.hethelcentre.com ). Derek Hillyard the engineering manager has been supportive of my project ideas from the outset, responding to my first email enquiry by inviting me to a meeting to discuss my ideas. With the project up and running its all systems go and we discussed logistics such as days to be on site, ordering software, publicity and Derek also suggested a visit to a local foundry that use RP which sounds great. I’m feeling excited about getting started on documenting this new type of industrial space over the next two weeks before I begin my CAD training.

Of course the project didn’t really start on Monday, it’s a culmination of ideas gathered from a whole host of sources, interactions, exhibition visits, conversations, reading and research all of which has been piling up over an extended period of time. These ideas are beginning to be filtered and organised, selected and refined which is a very welcome process. I have wanted to do this residency for a long time.