While visiting the University of Toronto last week, I saw a smart show in the gallery on the history of (and a conceptual framework for understanding) templates – with a particular focus on the tools architects once used to mediate between drawing instruments and paper in the era just preceding the digital era. They looked great as a collection in the gallery and the assorted shapes and bright colors brought back fond memories of my architecture-obsessed youth. Glenn Forley, one of the show’s curators, was a classmate at the Harvard GSD.
As a mediating device, templates negotiate between conception (drawing) and production (artifact), between data and graphic. As a technological device, templates translate form, as well as information, from one medium to another for the purposes of fabrication, organization, and visualization. The templates in Tailoring Form, culled from a range of industries and professions – shipbuilding, automobile design, navigation, architecture, and fashion – register shifts in the standardization of production and representation. In this context, Tailoring Form posits the template as a facilitating technology in a history of mechanization.
Fizer Forley is a research and design office in New York City. Fizer Forley’s exhibited research exploring the production of architectural and cultural artifacts has included: “Tailoring Form: a brief look at the history of the template”; “Artificial Memory,” a survey of memory devices; “The Democratic Monument in America 1900-2000,” with Richard M. Sommer; and “Opening the Oval,” a timeline history of the interior of the White House, Washington, D. C. Natalie Fizer and Glenn Forley teach in the School of Constructed Environments at Parsons the New School for Design.
The show closed last Thursday, March 3.