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between_ art / design / philosophy

Shapes of Energy

Investigatin How Machine Design Emerges from Energy Bahaviour


This project questions the ubiquity of the mechanical technology of current industrial societies. The use of metal seems obvious regarding its physical quality at macro scale: strength, density, weight. And thus the development of an industry based on metallic machines seems like a story that had no alternatives. My aim here was to challenge such singular path and use design and craft to stimulate the imaginary of a society which industries would be based on another material which also has energetic affiliation, but different ones; such as ceramic.

Clay is a negatively charged material to which soil structure depend to conduct water and electrical current. It reacts to heat by changing its molecular structure and compacting as water evaporates. But clay also reacts to chemical salt compounds that impart clay particles’ electrical charges, increasing the repulsive forces between them. This process is at the origin of slip casting clay.

Through the production of machine parts and engine shapes I wished to understand the reason of their designs. In fact, machine designs emerges from the energetic sensibility of the material they are made of: metal. For instances, strips are elements that offers a greater surface in contact to the atmosphere and therefore helps the engines to cool down. But this same structure, stripes, is far from being ceramic friendly due to the mould-making process combined with the shrinking of clay during the drying.

The outcome of the work gives a physical support to imagine the energetic behaviour such shapes would induce if they were not made of metal and ultimately, what kind of industry, economy, culture and society could have arise from this alternative technological foundation. The ceramic pieces become a way to aestheticise a form of knowledge, to make it dialogic. Craft is thus a tool to challenge oblivious view on technology.