“Pen To Paper” (2019) asks subjects to submit anthropometric data via photographic capture, thus are being implicated in the deconstruction and recontextualization of the human body.
Using a combination of computer vision and machine learning, along with the relatively antiquated pen plotter, this work argues that projects such as Henry Dreyfuss’s Measure of Man or IA Collaborative’s Humanscale Reissued fetishize an aesthetic governed and proliferated by a small group of standards-making organizations.
By diagramming the body with visual elements understood to be standards, the power held by those with the expertise in the standardized visual language of drafting and engineering is reified. Practitioners establish themselves as the definitive authorities on how a body should interact with the built world. From phrenology to Taylorism, the dimensioned human body has played a central part in efforts to effect the organization and construction of both the social and physical worlds.
With the specific implementation of engineering standards onto the drawn body, however, Henry Dreyfuss’s The Measure of Man and its descendants are critical progenitors of a discourse that frames the body as another object that can be adjusted to the whim of the designer.