Emerging digital-materiality workshop

bm door carvingWhat constitutes digital literacy depends on the setting. Within an arts and design institution whose students and staff are largely engaged in artefactual critique, understanding the interplay between digital and materials – and the synthesis of these seemingly different worlds – should be seen as an aspect of digital literacy.

The dialogue between material and digital artefacts is explored in multiple ways at Central Saint Martins – many perspectives being in evidence at the 2013 degree shows. In order to investigate ways of framing contemporary digital material relationships we shall be holding an exploratory workshop next month at the Wellcome Trust. By shining a spotlight on material objects, digital representations and associated digital media within a museums and gallery context, we aim to open-up discussion around digital sensuality, reciprocal objects, how the affect of an artefact alters when moving between material and digital, and so forth. As we concentrate on the artefacts themselves, the workshop is not exploring materiality in terms of socio-material assemblages i.e. relational concepts of materiality, but instead addresses ‘stuff’.

Carving in the African Galleries of the British Museum

Carving in the African Galleries of the British Museum

When people and objects collide, new spaces are opened up in which novel understandings become possible, and deeply entrenched preconceptions may be revealed and challenged. This approach to things as catalysts for new encounters can equally be applied to objects represented online as well as those in the museum.

Poulter E, Hogsden C. Journal of Material Culture September 2012 vol. 17 no. 3 

Concentrating on the Souzou exhibition, Wellcome’s Danny Birchall will join me in leading the workshop with students from MA Textile Futures, and MA Innovation Management. Many of the participants are highly sensitised to investigating the characteristics and qualities of materials, and will explore how we critically engage with a digital representation of a physical object, and if this impacts the ways in which we perceive the object in the flesh, and so forth.

  • Do material objects and digital objects complement each other? Does one enrich the other, or not?
  • Is the affect of an object transformed when digitised?
  • Do digital artefacts have their own materiality?
  • Does the aura or presence of the original artefact change when experienced online?

Outcomes from our discussion will be published on the Digital Present blog.