Models work as things in themselves, as demonstrations of ideas, rather than necessarily as preparations for future projects. The difference between these two attitudes rests with the model's relation to the ideas contained within it, and how these ideas are produced and externalized. As a demonstration of the processes of cognition, comprehension and production, the relationship between an artist's mental conception of a project and its physical articulation are in a profound and functional way linked. The model, which is neither exactly a finished work nor a completed expression, acts in a heuristic and developmental fashion as the site of this reflective manifestation. While concentrated on the mental and physical means of production and their interrelations, it simultaneously moves toward the larger question of a work's relation to reception and use; in short, it shows how an idea can become functional in the world.
When we use the word model, we are not speaking of a homogeneous procedure or form; the divergent character of the word's use indicates the discursive and varied ways that visualization and its manifestations occur. Generally the term suggests the thought of humans in the act of creative play: homo ludens hard at it; the restless hand doing what it does best. It is physical invention driven by the desire to make, a desire now largely sublimated in the culture by a contrived need to consume. The model is an idea at work.