EX | Mapping Materials
2011 - 2012
Elmaleh Gallery, University of Virginia, School of Architecture | Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
N 38°02’20” - W 78°30’14”
Exhibit / Installation
Michael Leighton Beaman
Materi-ology, the study of materials, can never be its own discipline, because it is already a component of every discipline. It cannot be a study at a specific scale, because it is already a study at every scale - quantum to cosmological. This endeavor is visceral and computational, individual and universal, immediate and mediated, intense and subtle. Most importantly though is the realization that with every new study material potentials are revealed.
What materi-ology seeks to do is not reiterate information readily expressed, but to unearth overlooked or marginalized data about any given material and to re-cast those findings into categories of information that define each material as a multiplicity of potentials. This effort is simultaneously an archaeological and projective one, looking to the systems at work that form these materials as well as defining new trajectories for each. While this approach yields a formation of potentials unique to each material, three core concerns have emerged.
The first is the extraction of information embedded in a material. Information requires a metric in which to be translated, and a point of view to assign value to those metrics. The second is the division and recombination of that information into data sets, each of which expose the qualities of that material. These include inherent, imbued, composite, physical and application qualities. Inherent qualities represent a material's physical and chemical properties, formal expression, or application. Materials acquire imbued qualities as a result of processes applied to that material.
This exhibition constitutes various combinations of inherent, imbued, composite, state or physical, and application qualities into categories of potentials. Together, they constitute an organization of a material's potential. The third concern is the dissemination or the act of communicating and transmitting these potentials in a way that makes them relatable. These potentials are what we are search for when construct our own investigations; and in this way, define material misuses and material innovations as nothing more than new points of view.
Mapping Materials was research and an exhibition that was supported by a University of Virginia, School of Architecture's Design Representation + Material Practices Research Grant.