Material as Experiment / Past, Present, Future 2018
Workshop and Exhibition at the Zurich University of the Arts

Materials teach us about contexts. If we decode the material’s narratives, we learn about its placement in time and space as well as scientific, historical, political, social, cultural, economic, technological or ecological situations. Our individual and personal connection to a material plays a significant role in our perception on and interactive processes with and through materials. The complexity of the world becomes evident in material discourse. Nature creates elements, matter and substances. Humans create material out of it. The process is influenced by tools, knowledge and culture. This is reflected in the material again. Thus, the human gives the material a meaning and materials tell the narratives of human interactions. The depicting of material knowledge in a time line quickly leads to the realization that material is temporally independent. Material always knows past, present and future at the same time.

Today materials are created in various disciplines: Natural scientists and engineers conduct research in laboratories on functional properties of so-called “smart materials“. Designers and artists rediscover substances that have been forgotten, develop fictional materials, ask questions about sustainability as well as social contexts and become the alchemists of our time. On the one hand the working methods and tools differ greatly from each other, on the other hand the disciplinary boundaries are blurred. It is not so much about discipline, but rather about social contexts, if we want to find answers to the question: Which material narratives do we want to create collaboratively for our future?

The exhibition project “Material as Experiment / Past - Present - Future“ brought together selected works by designers, artists and scientists. In a workshop with students of the Zurich University of the Arts, further positions were created, reflected upon and curated together. The participants and visitors gained insights into material worlds and narratives from different perspectives in the context of time and space to derive questions about material futures.

“Material as Experiment / Past - Present - Future“ was a joint project by Weissensee Academy of the Arts Berlin, Department of Experimental Material Research, and the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation in cooperation with the Zurich University of the Arts, Department of Interaction Design and the Material Archive Switzerland as part of the transdisciplinary research project “smart materials satellites” which explored didactics through material based design research to translate scientific and technological knowledge. "smart materials satellites" was a transdisciplinary two-year research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

“Material as Experiment / Past - Present - Future“ Collaborative Curation: Julia Wolf (Weissensee Academy of the Arts), Lilo Viehweg (Bauhaus Dessau Foundation), Franziska Müller-Reissmann (Material Archive Switzerland at Zurich University of the Arts), Clemens Winkler (Interaction Design Zurich University of the Arts)

Workshop Mentoring: Luke Franzke and Clemens Winkler (Interaction Design Zurich University of the Arts), Julia Wolf (Weissensee Academy of the Arts), Lilo Viehweg (Bauhaus Dessau Foundation), Franziska Müller-Reissmann (Material Archive Switzerland at Zurich University of the Arts)

Materialpositions / -narratives: Doris Isabel Brunschweiler, Randy Chen, Crafting Plastics Studio, Jennifer Duarte, Luke Franzke, Lena Ganswindt, Marcial Koch, Holger Kunze, Lapatsch|Unger, Philippa Lorenzen, Malu Lücking, Material-Archiv, Eriko Miyata, Jack Randol, Wagehe Raufi, Ruhr Universität Bochum, Rebecca Schedler, Claudia Schmid, Michelle Schmid, Lilo Viehweg, Mara Weber, Clemens Winkler, Julia Wolf, Marit Wolters

Texts and Quotes: Anni Albers, Doris Isabel Brunschweiler, Randy Chen, Jennifer Duarte, Luke Franzke, Marcial Koch, Holger Kunze, Lapatsch|Unger, Eriko Miyata, László Moholy-Nagy, Franziska Müller-Reißmann, Neri Oxman, Claudia Schmid, Michelle Schmid, Lilo Viehweg, Mara Weber, Clemens Winkler, Julia Wolf