Exploring Materiality: Traces & Remnants

Exercise Make your own material – explore the “materiality” of substances.

I took two approaches to this assignment. One was to create a material from many other materials, that was more structural and geometric, and that might stay in place if executed successfully. The other was to focus on the material itself, and think about materials that are around us every day, that might not be considered materials or that might be used differently than the application I’m interested in.


In nature


Cy Twombly at the Centre Pompidou

I’ve recently acquired some triangular paperclips that, for whatever reason, I find to be so much more satisfying to use than regular paperclips.

Though I was really interested in making some sort of mesh out of them and then gluing them together with either hot glue or crazy glue, it quickly became clear to me that the triangles themselves were not cut precisely enough to allow for a smooth line beyond several clips in a row. For this reason, I abandoned the project early on.

Smoke & Mirrors

I have always been interested in the remnants left behind by materials -oils, smoke, fingerprints. I find them beautiful if not ephemeral, and tend to document them as well. For me, this was an obvious point of exploration for this week’s prompt.

The first law of Thermodynamics states that the energy in an isolated system can neither be created nor destroyed. Energy can only be transferred from one form to another.

Bearing in mind the first law of Thermodynamics (which, for existential/atheist reasons I find to be comforting) and thinking about what happens to elements when we burn them, I wanted to focus on using the “smudge” generated from burning different materials:

I attempted to capture the different smokes of different materials in a glass jar.

I then used whatever coating was left as a material to “erase” in order to make patterns/shapes.

Conclusion Though not an entirely satisfying end, I think further experimentation (different vessels/different materials) will yield different results. I look forward to working with more effective materials to burn and surfaces on which to glaze/coat them.

Further Exploration I also thought about how we can use different oils and the ways they bleed as a new material. Though a not entirely developed idea, it’s worth posting some photos here if not for anything else than their aesthetics:

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