Sarah Younan’s blog post

Things are starting to come together; I have scanned an eclectic range of museum objects from the ceramics collections at the National Museum of Wales (http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/), and shared the digital scans with a number of artists interested in participating in this project. Colaborating artists will use the 3d scans of historical artefacts to create new artworks. Andrew Renton, head of applied arts at the National Museum of Wales, has agreed to host a small exhibition of the submitted artworks in the ceramics galleries at the museum. I have never currated a show before and am quite excited about the possibilities. One thing is certain; in order for the digitally created artworks to enter into a dialogue with the original museum artefacts both will have to be displayed together. I would also like to go beyond simply displaying digital artworks on screen or as projection and am thinking of bringing tabletop 3D printers into the museum to allow digital artworks to manifest physically inside the museum.

Three participating artists have submitted initial sketches – none of these are finished pieces, but they already display a wide range of interpretations of the original artefacts.

In a little movie clip that M. Helmrich, an animator by trade, has put together the lid of a cup is transformed into a flying saucer, and sound has been added to bring the artefacts to life.

 

S. Haddad has sent a sketch, which references popular culture; a ceramic squirrel has been replaced with Scrat (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etKCHLgW_o0) , an animated character from 20th Century Fox’ Ice Age movies.

 

T. Pickup, from the digital arts collective Genetic Moo (http://www.geneticmoo.com/) on the other hand approaches the scans as digital data, rather than as three-dimensional models, and has written a programm which runs through the scans coordinate points and translates them into an abstract pattern.

 

These initial approaches can be read in the context of theories on the museum, on artefacts and the digital realm;

 

-Helmrich’s playfully associative connection of the ceramic tableware and flying saucers epitomizes the dream space – The dream space describes a field of subrational thought in which museum artefacts interact with viewers’ memories, imagination and emotions (Kavanagh, 2000). Within the museum it is an affective space and can provoke both emotional expression and creative free play in the minds of their visitors (Mills, 2011).

 

-Haddad’s piece connects the historic artefact with popular culture and illustrates how the mass media has become a source which feeds into our historical imagination (Wallace, 1995); visitors now enter the museum with well stocked mental film banks.

-Artefacts where historically made within a particular medium[1], the level of the interface did not exist (Manovich, 2010). When working with 3D models the artists usually interact with data on the level of the interface. Pickup’s choice to work with the code data itself raises questions about the nature of digital objects.

 

As this project progresses it will surely offer more exciting approaches towards working with the digital scans of museum artefacts. I am looking forward to seeing how meanings shift and the public, physical object becomes personal and expressive of the artist’s interpretations. In this way the National Museum of Wales will hopefully become a place that inspires philosophical reflection on the impact of media on our understanding of museums and heritage.


[1] The artefacts from the National Museum of Wales are all ceramic objects; their mode of production and materiality forms a great part of what these objects are. Not so with 3D scans of these artefacts; they are dematerialised and noted as data.

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