I have chosen the term standstill as a central context for Architectura Hydraulica. As described in the earlier tasks, a large portion of the book consists of technical drawings showcasing a variety of water wheel and pump systems. What struck me most about these drawings was that none of them show any sign of movement. All of the constructions shown in the book either use the movement of water or cause movement among the water themselves, but none of the drawings incorporate this movement.
On the one hand, the decision to avoid displaying movement appears logical. The drawings are conceived to be used in construction. Thus, they are meant to accurately depict the individual parts used, not to illustrate their function in a tangible manner. Furthermore, it can be assumed that the book is directed toward professionals in the field of civil engineering, an audience likely to be aware of the general context of the systems shown and mostly interested in details that would differentiate the author’s designs from others they had studied before.
When creating a drawing, artists always have to deal with a certain degree of abstraction. In Architectura Hydraulica, Lucas Voch deliberately ignores the constant movement of the wheels and the water in his depictions in order to focus on the geometries and interactions of different components. In this sense, the perceived standstill helps us understand the purpose of the book even without reading the introductory text. Additionally, the inherent inability of human expression, be it verbal or visual, to capture the entirety of a real-world situation without any loss of information leads to some uncertainty regarding the causal relationship between drawing and text. Most certainly, Voch’s illustrations are based on the way Caspar Walter explained the perceived systems to him. Nevertheless, we could imagine the text in a secondary role, acting as an explanation for the drawings. In my opinion, this nicely shows the interplay of various possibilities to convey information in the field of architecture.
On the other hand, I find it appealing to envision the discontinuity that would have occurred had Lucas Voch employed a more vivacious style of drawing or had Caspar Walter written particularly animated descriptions of his systems. Granted, the misunderstanding leading to either Voch or Walter attempting to evoke vivid images of sceneries surrounding water wheels and pumps in the reader would have had to be substantial. Yet, the convention of standstill in Architectura Hydraulica and any similar books discussing matters of engineering is an artificial one and can, to some extent, be interpreted as mankind’s desire to control nature’s never-ending motion.
Keywords: motion, communication, expression