Representation relies for its legibility on a set of geometric and mechanical procedures. When a new form of representation is developed its legibility is, at first, difficult to discern for the lay-observer. For some new forms, this difficulty is trivial and easily overcome; for others, it takes years or even a generation for it to be assimilated and become generally legible.
For architecture, there has long been a complex, productive, and mutual contamination between the geometric and mechanical procedures underpinning the discipline and those underpinning representation. New structures of representation - ranging, in the past, from perspective, to cubism, and beyond - have often preceded not only their own general legibility, but also their instantiation in built projects. Conversely, devices that form part of the mechanics of architectural production (the section, the axonometric) have expanded and inflected representation’s legible range.
The ongoing relationship between architecture and representation is, as much as anything, a matter of necessity. The substantial commitment of resources and money that architecture entails - commitments typically made by clients unfamiliar with the discipline of architecture and its abstractions - requires persuasive artifacts that allow the client to visualize or, at least, have the impression that they are visualizing, the final work beforehand. However, beyond the Realpolitik of commissions and public taste, the linking of architecture to representation has often created a vital interplay between emerging sensibilities and creative production. The mechanics of creative production is such that it sometimes leads us see something before we can make it and sometimes to make something before we can even sense it.