the act of drawing
without the body

How to draw without using
the human body?

The research project Machinic Protocols leaves aside the ‘hand of the artist’. Here, rather than being animated by the preconcieved idea of the outcome of an art work, we work the forces that enable its emergence. We design mecanisms that design. Even though the term machinic may evoke a mechanical act, it is more generic: it refers to an attitude, the one of relying on automatized processes to perform desired tasks. In other words, to delegate to others, may they be human or not.

This method of creation implies that, once the creation process has begun, it runs on its own and the ‘author’ becomes a mere spectator. Since the outcome is produced by sometihng else, it is unknown to the author; chance and accidents therefor play an active role. This automated process is fuelled by protocols, the real implication of the ‘author’ – or the designer – as a recipe, a set of instructions that dictate actions to be executed. The real outcome of Machinic Procols is a methodology for design, one that targets design questions in the field of drawing and space. It unfolds into a series of projects, each serving as an iteration to test and define that methodology. Directed by Edouard Cabay, this work has been developed within the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia and in Appareil, an experimental architecture office in Barcelona. It has been initiated in 2015 with academic studio projects and has since then lead to numerous iterations in the academic world, art museums and cultural manifestations.
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Second Deviation


500 impacts  / 24 days / 2 paintings / ink on paper / yellow – blue – red


The deviating trajectory of a pendulum inscribed on a canvas.

The ensemble performs in an elongated space:  a ball, attached from the ceiling by a thin nylon wire, drops into color ink containers, from there, a robot arms catches by means of an electro-magnet to bring it to a higher point in space form which it gets released, crosses the room at high speed until it collides onto a canvas.

The collision leaves an impact of ink, the trace of a moment, of a process…

In an elongated space, a ball, attached from the ceiling by a thin nylon wire, drops into color ink containers, from there, a robotic arms catches it by means of an electro-magnet to bring it to a higher point in space,  form which it gets released to cross the room at high speed until it collides onto the canvas, positioned vertically on the wall. The collision leaves an impact of ink, the trace of a moment, of a process…

Theoretically the pendulum should draw a perfect grid but, due to vibrations and movements in the air, deviates from its course. Each impact on the canvas becomes a manifestation of the deviation.

A pendulum impresses by its relentless regularity, unmistakably subordinate to the laws of physics. As in few phenomenon, the theoretical model and the reality are identical. Second Deviation challenges this particularity as a fully automated drawing apparatus that attempts to make a perfect gridded drawing.

Second deviation is the second in a series of installations that explores the non-controllable dimension of physical processes in a creative practice of drawing.


Direction: Edouard Cabay

Curation: Emmanuelle Chiappone-Piriou

Team: Peter Geelmuyden Magnus, Soroush Garivani

Area Insitute: Christian Girard (Pr.)

With: Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia and ABB

Photography: Aurélien Mole and Peter Geelmuyden Magnus

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AA[n+1] Gallery for Area Institute, Paris – 2018

First Deviation


18.900 drops  / 8 days / 8 paintings / ink on paper / yellow – blue


A droplet of coloured ink forms and grows at the edge of the nozzle from which it suddenly detaches and starts a free fall in space. The trajectory of the fall deviates, seemingly affected by insignificant vibrations in the air: voices, wind, humidity… until the drop eventually splashes and spreads its colour on the page below.

Every time a droplet falls the canvas is moved by a small distance until an orthogonal grid of stains appears on the page. For every new drawing, the nozzle is placed a little higher, increasing the margin of deviation.

Framed in between two automated devices of high precision – the electronic nozzle and the robotically moving canvas – the space of the fall is where deviations happen, manifested as the colourful impacts on the page.

First deviation is the first of a series of installations that explores and attempts to reveal the non-controllable dimension of physical processes in a creative practice of drawing and other means.

Team: Edouard Cabay, Peter Geelmuyden Magnus, Soroush Garivani, Kunal Singh Chadha

With: Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia and ABB

Photography: José Hevia and Peter Geelmuyden Magnus

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Arts Santa Monica, Barcelona – 2018

Capture Alive


Graphite on plaster, 4,2 m x 3,1 m.

During a long process of observation of a wall, an unusual light unexpectedly appeared. It travels and reflects itself across the space and the glass of the windows until it eventually reaches the white surface.

It’s a light and a shadow, but its form is unusual as it only appears for an instant and tells more about the space in front than the wall itself.

The drawing took 72 hours to make. In a grid of 3 by 3 cm, each dot was drawn during a pre-defined time. 0 seconds corresponds to a white dot, while 14 creates the darkest zone.

The sound of a metronome accompanied the drawing period.

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Residence at Black Horses  – Halle, Germany

314 moments


Once every minute, a camera takes an aerial picture of the public space in front of Barcelona’s cathedral. A simple algorithm converts the photograph into a vectorial register of the position of the people on the square. And that information is fed to a 3-axis robot equipped with a pen that simply draws it on a 50 cm by 70 cm paper canvas.

A person is represented by a dot, labelled with a number and a short line going in the direction of the orientation of the sun at the moment at which the picture was taken. After completing the drawing of a photograph, the system finds the last picture taken and undertakes the drawing of a new set of lines on the same canvas. It repeats the action form 10 am to 8 pm, overlapping the lines of hundreds of photographs, of thousands of people. Every day a drawing gets started on a fresh white page.

These drawings can therefore be compared one to another and, if carefully observed, reveal characteristic of how the public space is being occupied in space and time.

Sometimes the system collapses, the script gets corrupted and a drawing of radically different form occurs.


Project: Edouard Cabay
Digital fabrication: Alejandro Rondón
Coding: Rodrigo Aguirre
Automation: Alexandre Dubor
Sound: Lina Salamanca

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Cercle Artistic Sant Lluc, Barcelona – 2016



“A wave rolls on the surface of the sea, affecting the equilibrium of a floating pendulum causing it to swing. With a pen at its extremity, the pendulum leaves traces of ink on the page below, expressing the rhythm and course of the waves: a translation of the sea.”

Traces proposes an analogue physical device holding a pen that will transcribe physical forces such as waves or wind, translating them into drawings. 

Each drawing is made over a period of two hours enabling the emergence of graphical patterns that provide a two-dimensional representation of the physical phenomenon. The experiment essentially gives rise to consistent maps of movements or time lapses in nature.Every iteration of the experiment produces a new drawing: their series might share graphic characteristics or patterns as well as calligraphic qualities, but every page is a unique outcome, acknowledging the singularity of every moment in nature.

Traces – delineating Incidents is an exhibition that concluded a collaboration between the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia and the Cercle Artístic de Sant Lluc in Barcelona. The exhibition featured projects initiated as an investigation at the MAA of the IAAC in fall 2015 by Edouard Cabay and Rodrigo Aguirre.


Team: Edouard Cabay, Rodrigo Aguirre and Alejandro Rondón

With: Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia

Students: Pedro Levit Arroyo Ventura, Dirk van Wassenaer, Tobias Deeg, Peter Geelmuyden Magnus , Martin Hristov, Vishnu Jadia, Khushboo Jain, Hong Jeng Rung, Sidharth Kumar, Utsav Mathur, Jean Sebastian Munera, Chenthur Raaghav Naagendran, Lina Salamanca, Naitik Shah , Goutham Santhanam, Ekaterina Simakova

Photography: Enric Bolaño

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Cercle Artistic Sant Lluc, Barcelona – 2016

Vientos de Alisisos


An electronically controlled array of fans blows towards the center of a canvas where a pen attached to a sail moves into the wind. When the pen gets close to a fan its flow intensifies, pushing it away. In a context of reciprocity, the pen and the fans dialogue to keep the movement perpetual so that the machine never stops drawing.


This installation produces drawings remotely. It runs endlessly until a dense geometrical drawing appears. If a series of drawings get produced, they tend to look identical when you seen from a distance, while completely unique from very close by.

Project team:  Edouard Cabay y Mehmed Berk Bostancy

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Installation at the Tenerife Design Week, Tenerife, Spain – 2018

Cartographical fiction


an urban experiment on Tallinn’s water system

This project, a didactic experiment, aims to expose the water situation of the city of Tallinn by translating it into a performative machine, revealing water flows, and their chemical and biological compositions, in a cartographical format. More than a mere visualisation tool, the installation is a form of board game, and a machinic fiction that helps to speculate on proposals for alternative ways to address the relationship between Tallinn and its water system.

Project credits
Edouard Cabay – Project management
Maja Piechowiak – Urban research and narrative development
Jeng Rung Hong – Fabrication
Nikolaos Argyros and Hsin Li – Parametric Cartography
Peter Geelmuyden Magnus – Physical Computing

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TAB17 – Tallinn Architecture Biennale – 2017



A rotating arm in the middle of a white page holds a pen on an expandable rod, whose rotatory movement is provoked by an electronic board that controls both the speed of revolution and the distance between the pen and the centre of the device. The pen’s circular trajectory creates thin lines of ink as a deformed circle; over time, as many circles overlap, varying densities of ink appear on the page, showing the possible paths that the anatomy of the machine permits.

Scripts is an experiment in which physical parts compose mechanisms that compels a movement of a pen on a paper canvas. The drawing machines are fuelled by low voltage electricity, and their movements are controlled by electronically induced impulses. This enables them to potentially connect to the outside world, able to receive information numerically, sensed from the city, to convert data into drawings.

Scripts – a chronicle  of incidents is a collaboration between the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia and the Casa elizalde in Barcelona. The exhibition featured projects initiated as an investigation at the MAA of the IAAC in fall 2015 by Edouard Cabay and Rodrigo Aguirre.

Team: Edouard Cabay, Rodrigo Aguirre

With: Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia

Students: Valerie Frey, Mehmet Berk Bostanci, Gelder Van Limburg Stirum, Pablo Agustin Vivas, Hsin Li and JengRung Hong, based on original work by Nasser Ghannam, Mohamad Rachid Jalloul, Ceren Yildrim and, Guolang Zhang, Cagan Izgi, Athanasios Zervos, Keesje Avis, Kathleen Bainbridge, Irene Ayala Castro, Yasmina Wery, Krati Gorani

Photography: José Hevia and Xavier González

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Cercle Artistic Sant Lluc, Barcelona – 2017

Jules and Jules


Jules, 7 years old, Brussels, saw an article on an old newspaper laying on the table.  This article stated that, in Finland, handwriting is no longer a compulsory subject in primary schools.  

Wondering what it would be not to know how to write, he decided to write down the title on a sheet of paper.  The simple sentence was converted into a vectorial computer drawing, providing the necessary codify for the robot to write himself. The robot, then wrote Jules’ sentence on another paper. Is this real?
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New Generations’ Festival, Barcelona – 2015

12 arms


An anatomical drawing.

When a person becomes a drawing device.  Six different people execute a hand drawing from a protocol.  As time runs, the differences in each drawing starts to vanish.

  1.    Aim to go through the points
  2.    Aim to have a constant speed – .5  m/s – no stops
  3.    Your line should be a continuous curve
  4.    Go through all points a roughly equal amount of times
  5.    aim to achieve all possible connections – but don’t be forceful
  6.    no unnecessary inflection points in the curve
  7.    try to do only the above
  8.    this is an experiment that requires your arm and nothing else
  9.       try to disconnect from your intentions
  10.    consider yourself a tool
  11.    try not to have an attitude

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Barcelona – 2017

Automatización a mano libre


In a highly constrained context, 10 artists draw thoroughly following 10 different protocols, or pre-determined sets of instructions, during a fixed period of 120 minutes. The instructions invite the artists to draw in the way of operating actions rather then following their intuition. Their body thus becomes a device or an instrument that mechanically executes orders.

10 protocols
10 artists
10 experts in computation

Paper: 100×70 cm
Pen: ink – 0,1 thick
Time: 120 minutes

10 hand drawings
10 computer drawings

In parallel, these sets of instructions, this time in the form of an algorithm, are run through a computer that generates a digital drawing, which is then printed and hanged next to its analogue hand drawn version. The juxtaposition of the two drawings leads to the comparison of the pair: created by different means, both share the same logics but their form and stroke certainly differ.

This experiment and its series of drawings aim to investigate the relationship between the person and the machine in the creative process, in automation and in artificial intelligence.

Freehand Automation is an experiment developed in the Machinic Protocols research line from the Master in Advanced in Advanced Architecture of the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia.

It forms part of a project that will be exhibited at Arts Santa Monica in the summer of 2018.

Project director: Edouard Cabay

Project assistant: Keesje Avis

Video: Lili Tayefi

Computation experts: Tal Dotan & Martin Garcia-Miro Zaldumbide, Aman Jain & Hayder Abdulameer Mohammed Mahdi, Gayatri Harikrishana Desai & Ewald Jooste, Bhakti Vinod Loonawat & Matteo Proaño Albuja, Soroush Garivani & Elena Kavtaradze, Gabrielė Liuda Jurevičiūtė & Deepak Sivadasan, Xu Jiang & Takeru Osoegawa, Arman Najari & Baran Mostafa Tehrani, Yingxin Du & Ardeshir Talaei, Marc Bou Assaf & Alberto Emil Holguin Martinez.

Artists: Clara Baylina, Nicolau Bou, Margarida Sánchez, Oscar Lechuga, Isabel Witt, Carme Riu, Rebeca Font, David Miràs, Natàlia Hernández, Cecilia Pétriz, Violeta Valdor

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Cercle Artistic Sant Lluc, Barcelona – 2018

Glories Regenerative Systems


Could Plaza de Glories, a space regulated by transport infrastructure become, in the next 40 years, the city´s central waste management hub where waste would serve to construct configurations of a public space for the citizen?

By intersecting the three major roads of Barcelona at this traffic node, Cerda planned Plaza de Glories to be the city’s ‘new urban center’. Though Glories remained

underdeveloped due to a lack of public and commercial program, instead acting as a space regulated by transport infrastructure. The plaza is unable to function as a unified and occupiable public space due to the sectioning of the major roads, creating a barrier to pedestrian circulation via spatial and occupational division. It is also an expansive plane with scarce shelter, with few facilities for communal or recreational use, locals do not identify Glories to communal space. The plaza currently houses the Encants second hand market, The Disseny Hub Design Museum, the landmark that is Torre Agbar, a modern shopping center and is surrounded with residential neighborhoods. To create a link between these structures, address urban disjunction, and lack of public activity, Glories Regenerative Systems is a design solution to Barcelona’s waste accumulation and energy consumption, as well as a sustainable alternative to the mass transportation of products.


Active Public Space – Glories Regenerative Systems is a project of IaaC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, developed at Master in Advanced Architecture in 2015/2016 by:

Students: Peter Geelmuyden Magnus, Utsav Mathur, Tobias Deeg, Martin Hristov, Rana Abdulmajeed, Nour Mezher, Jean Sebastian Munera, Lili Tayefi

Faculty: Edouard Cabay, Rodrigo Aguirre

With help from: Angel Muñoz, Pablo Barquin, Carmen Aquilar Wedge, Ramin Shambayati.

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IaaC, Barcelona – 2016

Atelier Re-

2012 – 2015

Re– refers to the ambition of the course to work from an existing environment, may it be buildings, structures, infrastructures, urban plans and to re-think their very existence, re-adapt them to new uses, re-trofit to new conditions, re-visit their architecture.

The Atelier develops a process-based approach to design which is based on the creation of cartographical catalogues of the physical context revealing emergent patterns as opportunities for design.

The Atelier relies on drawing and mapping as exploration tools to develop a process based approach to design. It relies on the creation catalogues of cartography from uncharted information of a context, combined with the use of parametric techniques for drawing. The investigations of this methodology form the body of work that leads us to explore new grounds, possibilities, unseen characteristics. Repetitive graphical translation of these maps enables the emergence of new material and organizational patterns creating a exploitable transitions between mapping and conception initiating the process of design.

All drawings were produced by the students of  the École Spéciale d’Architecture

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Atelier, École Spéciale d’Architecture, Paris – 2012-2015


by Rodrigo Aguirre

Drawing is traditionally seen as the act of creating an image through a relational means between the artist and the medium. In today’s digital era, the artist is subjective to human or machinic protocols. If the act of drawing is unique to humans, what does it mean to automate the procedure of drawing? Does it take away a certain unpredictable quality? The human touch, as they call it. Or can a machine portray its own sense of unpredictability?

Published in Scripts, May 2017