What the frog in the Atomium!

Material Want, Matthew Plummer-Fernandez and JODI
↳ Material Want, Matthew Plummer-Fernandez and JODI at iMAL

Matthew Plummer-Fernandez (UK/CO) and JODI (BE/NL) present their first collaboration at iMAL, a center for digital cultures and technology in Brussels, Belgium. You can find all the necessary background information on the iMAL web site.

Two screens in the iMAL space show rotating ‘collages’ made of 3D bits and pieces. One has photographic bitmap textures, the other has those very bright RGB colors typical used while working in any 3D software. The two rotating collages can be manipulated by the visitors. You can click to view another collage and move a mouse on a pedestal to change the rotating direction. Behind the screens and in between the concrete columns of the iMAL space, little 3D printed sculptures are presented in a display area cut out of the wooden, temporary walls. It creates the impression that the small creatures are behind glass in a box.

There is a very apparent humorous undertone to this exhibition. Matthew Plummer-Fernandez and JODI reused a very eclectic collection of found 3D files as the raw matter for their sculptures and for the 2 projections. You will be surprised what people try to scan and turn into a 3D digital object. The mashup results spinning at iMAL are often very funny. The sculptures on display might be seen as 3D printed jokes. A frog in the Brussels Atomium. A hollow SnoopDogg looking at his fingers. Yoda crashed into a pixelated phantom.

Material Want, Matthew Plummer-Fernandez and JODI
↳ Material Want, Matthew Plummer-Fernandez and JODI at iMAL

At the same time it also has something depressing. You feel like staring at rotating digital garbage. Not all people know how to scan properly. And all these hurry scans bump into each other forming exploded masses of stuff. The sculptures are all like accidents. Nothing seems sacred. The Venus of Willendorf has strange lumps on her body. Cars are melted together in disaster. A sliced and amputated dog or elephant. The photographic textures, printed on the interior of some of the sculptures seem to a certain extent ignore their 3D realities.

Material Want, Matthew Plummer-Fernandez and JODI
↳ Material Want, Matthew Plummer-Fernandez and JODI at iMAL

Is this all an attempt to create something meaningful out of the enormously growing amount of digital trash created by our brave new digital world? Or are we only capable of making jokes while our online ships are sinking into oceans of entropic dirt. Are the sculptures for sale in the accompanying Material Want webshop souvenirs or gadgets from that disastrous digital journey or are those the only new possible meaningful works of art for future generations?

This show is somehow related with the online project shivinteger, a collaboration between Matthew Plummer-Fernandez and Julien Deswaef (BE/US). Both projects seem to have originated more or less at the same time. The big difference seems however the level of automation and randomness. Shivinteger is a bot sitting on top of the thingiverse web site and is full automatically generating 3D compositions based on uploaded 3D files by the other community members. You can download and try to 3D print all the compositions, you can enjoy the sometimes surreal names of the objects but also should read the heated comments on the controversial presence of shivinteger on thingiverse. Material Want seems much closer to a traditional art exhibition where artists make a selection of objects to display and for others to collect, while shivinteger leads a more virtual automated life. Both projects however confront us with our irrepressible urge to create all kinds of stuff relentlessly, and our untameable need to possess and collect material goods. Why do we always want more?

Author: Hans Verhaegen, 2016

Contact: hans—at—hansup—dot—be - Twitter: @hansup - Subscribe to Newsletter