Published in Japanese with the following English translation in graphic design 57, the Spring, March 1975 edition of the quarterly magazine for graphic design and art direction published by Kodansha Ltd. Tokyo Japan


by Vladimir Tamari

Figures 1-3.
 1.  Drawing in space using 3DD (Three Dimensional Drawing Instrument). The artist sees one "space pen" which he can steer in space by moving the drawing handle in all directions. The instrument was invented in Palestine in 1964, and this latest model I built in 1973 in Japan, (photo: Watanabe Akio.)
2. Pen and lines superimposed over actual landscape space.
3. Diagram explaining the parallax shift between the images seen by the two eyes. E= separation of the two eyes. S= optical distance between lens of stereoscope and drawing paper. Z= actual distance in space of object. D= parallax shift on drawing paper

How can a painter use "words" to describe his work ? Drawing is my way of thinking and of actualizing my dreams, of communicating, and of discovering reality.

  God gave us two eyes, separated by about 65 mm. Each point of view is slightly different from the other. For the past 11 years I have been using this fact of space perception to make an instrument for drawing in space (Figure 1).

  When you look into the two lenses of the 3DD (3 Dimensional Drawing Instrument)—it can be also called a 'space-pen'—you will see one pen. Actually the instrument has two pens but each eye only sees one pen, and the two images are fused. The hand holds the drawing handle and moves it in space—the pen, floating in space, follows the promptings of the hand and draws a space line which looks like a wire sculpture.

  By using a lens stereoscope, the pairs of drawings accompanying this article (Figures 4-6) can be fused and perceived in space. See diagrams (Figure 3) and (Figure 7) for an outline of the theory of stereoscopic drawing and the mechanism of 3DD.

  In 1921, Paul Klee was speaking to his students at the Bauhaus school in Weimar. He said: "In our last meeting we observed to our regret that we have no three dimensional script." I don't know the precise meaning of Klee's statement, but the 3DD is indeed an instrument that can give us a three dimensional script!

 Technically speaking, it is very easy to draw in space, provided that the 3DD is well designed and constructed. The hand guides the instrument, and the pen follows, like remote-control steering an airplane. Visualizing things spatially and seeing relationships in nature is much more difficult. In the 500 or so years since Renaissance perspective, we have become almost totally space-blind! We draw on flat paper, so our thoughts become flat. Occasionally we do visualize an idea in depth, but as soon as we draw it, we must struggle with the flatness of the paper, and the idea is lost; like a flower crushed flat between the pages of a thick volume.

 My own "space blindness" came as a complete surprise to me. After a year's work, I had just finished constructing the latest model of the space-pen (Figure 1). To test it, I took it to the beach and started to draw the view. I drew the vertical mast of a nearby yacht, then I wanted to draw the horizon. My reflex was to draw the horizon as a line crossing the mast (as we normally do on flat paper). But I looked at the scene again: Between the nearby mast and the distant horizon was a vast expanse of sea and salty air. So, continuing to look into the lenses of the 3DD, I pushed the drawing handle downwards as far as it will go. The pen dived into the space of the paper, (equivalent to visual space) and I drew the horizontal line, deep behind the vertical line of the mast.

  This is actually what happens when we draw in space; we see and we draw in completely new ways, By changing the pens of the 3DD to colored ones, we can make space paintings. Dots and strokes in space weave surfaces, creating volumes and masses, all firmly suspended in space. The drawing space itself appears so real that we can almost 'mold' and 'cut' it, like concrete or cheese, only it is invisible. Complex spatial relationships in the drawing or painting can be drawn in the most wonderful and direct manner. A new art is born.

  While drawing in space, the eyes, the pens and the hand are all working together in perfect coordination. This simple fact reflects the method used by any craftsman: He has a vision (eyes). To actualize this vision, he uses his action (hand) and tools (the pens). The senses of touch and of vision are coordinated in the space of the work table. And the product of the craftsman is good.

   In our modern world this simple coordination of vision + tools + action is often lost. Technology has improved greatly the power of tools (machines), but traditional drawing methods have failed almost completely in helping the artist, planner and de-signer to catch up with the new realities. Complex modern systems and machines now function far beyond human understanding and control. The space-pen can help us understand these problems better because we can draw 'out there', within a human perceptual scale which fits real space in a 1:1 relationship.

  Diagram (Figure 2) will give some idea of this 1:1 perceptual scale space drawing. Special, small, 1/2-reflecting mirrors enable us to superimpose the space drawing over "real" space. We see the pen move among the trees and buildings in the real landscape. Moreover, we can steer this pen to draw lines in the actual visual space. This space could be a city, a room interior, or the space on the table. A. chair 12 meters away, can be "drawn" 12 meters away.

  Another technique for using the 3DD is direct tracing from a small object (like a seashell) or using space drafting instruments to create precise drawings in space for the architect or the mathematician and designer. The above methods are most difficult to describe with words or flat diagrams, without actually using the instrument. Best of all is simple freehand doodling in space.

  How will children draw in space? How will the instrument be useful to a designer, to a sculptor, or an engineer? I do not know. All I know is that, as a painter, I wanted my lines to fly in space. With God's help, I was able to do that. Now I must discover this space in drawings and paintings.

   My hope is that the 3DD (or space-pen) will be-come available so that others too will discover their "own" spaces...

Figures 4-6 DD drawings. If you cannot obtain a small stereoscope to fuse them, you can try to do that by holding two small enlarging lenses over the drawings until the drawings come together to form a space image. Some people can fuse the images with the unaided eye, by placing a white card vertical to the page at the margin separating the two drawings.

Principle of the 3 dimensional drawing instrument (3DD)

1 Lenses of stereoscope. The right eye looks through the right lens and sees only the right pen and paper. Same for left eye, lens, pen and paper. Left and right views are fused to give one "space pen" and one "space paper". 2 The pens. In this design, only the right pen makes the parallax shift (D). 3 Drawing handle. When it is lifted up the vertical z-axis, the right pen moves slightly to the left. This makes the "space pen" move nearer to the observer. If the handle is moved horizontally in the x-y plane, the "pen" draws a flat diagram. A combination of x-y, and z movements produces space lines. 4 Cam for converting (Z) movement into (D) parallax shift. Compare with Fig. 3 on page  5 Tracing point for space drafting. If a small object is placed within the "drawing space", then the 3DD can trace the contour of the object in space. The drawing of the seashell on page 45 was made by this tracing method. 6 "Drawing Space" or model space. Within it all drawing operations take place, whether freehand, or by contact tracing. However, the actual space-image seen by the eyes is much larger. 7 Parallel mechanism for moving instrument in the x-y plane.

Make your own stereoscope and 3D drawings

The stereoscope  could be made of heavy cardboard or wood. In-expensive magnifying glasses are fitted at the eye-apertures, slightly off-center (see figure). Focal length of lenses (f) must be between 120 mm and 200 mm. The height of the lenses from the paper must be slightly less than the focal length, so that the magnified image will be in focus. Place finished stereoscope over pairs of drawings, relax your eyes until 2 images approach each other and 'click' to form a space image. Make sure left and right drawings are evenly illuminated.

This example will help you understand how to construct space drawings by hand. Use drawing paper with horizontal lines. 1-Draw two points (A—A) on one line. 45 mm   separation. 2-Draw two points (B—B) on another line. 55 mm separation. If you now fuse the two pairs of points in a stereoscope, (A) will appear much nearer than (B). 3-If you join A—B in left and right drawings, the line AB will be a space line. 4-Construct equal squares at A—A and B—B. Join the corners and when you fuse the left and right drawings in a stereoscope, you will see a cube-like solid in space. Please remember that similar pairs of points always lie on the same horizontal line. If you increase point-to-point distance (horizontal) between pairs of points, you will also increase the distance "in space" (depth) in the "fused" image.

You can cover forms with color tone film to give planes in space (such as the shaded side of the cube in the figure) and also use cut-out collage material. Points in space are the basic "vocabulary" of space drawings. Try varying the separation between pairs of points by a millimeter or two, but do not increase this separation to over 65 mm between left and right points.