Summary Essay Example

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Summary of chapter 4, The thinking hand, by Juhani Pallasmaa:


This paper summarises the 4th chapter of The thinking hand, titled The drawing hand. The paper also includes an image to synthesise the contents of the chapter.

In this chapter, the author makes two very strong statements; hands have eyes and that eyes have hands when it comes to drawing. The author says this is explained by the fact that a person can draw an object by touching it only. While the hand can only feel texture and structure, the stimuli enables the mind to conceive an image of the said object. Alternatively, the eye can act as a hand by ‘feeling’ an object by looking at it from a distance.

Another important concept that Pallasmaa brings out in this chapter is that portraiture takes place ‘live’ and in real time. By this, the author implies that the draughtsman has no preconceived ideas about the portrait but rather experiences and puts down the ideas on paper as he perceives them in what he calls successive perception. This successive perception is transferred from vision into sketches that also capture the draughtsman’s persona. Therefore, the act of drawing facilitates interaction of perception, memory and one’s sense of life. The same concept of successive perception applies in writing and poetry and other forms of free writing.

The author also discusses photography and the use of computers in drawing. The author notes that photography, same way as computer aided drawing, does not bring out the personal touch of the draughtsman. He notes that drawing by hand captures not only the personal touch but also the emotions involved. For instance, hesitation, excitement and doubt can be observed in lines as opposed to the case of computerised drawing and photography. Some experts claim photography and computerised drawing as choke creativity in drawing. Again, computer drawings lack a tactile connection between hand and imagination.

The image below is an example of a hand drawn sketch depicting a seemingly abandoned cabin in the woods that is in disrepair. It highlights some of the issues raised by Pallasmaa in this particular chapter.


Source: 123rf

The sketcher has matched the desolate house with a desolate environment. None of the trees in image appears lush and green. There are various shades, thickness of line and other aspects that capture emotion and persona and the sketcher. Such cannot be vividly expressed in a computer drawn image or a photograph.


Free image: Retrieved online on 18/08/2011 from—hand-drawing-sketch.html

Pallasmaa, J. 2009. The thinking hand; existential and embodied wisdom in architecture. London: John Wiley & Sons.