Surface Tensions - surface, finish and the meanings of objects
Call for Interest
Qualities of surface and finish contribute significantly to the characteristics of designed objects, in industrial manufacture and hand making, and in objects made from diverse materials. This new Research Network, convened by the University for the Creative Arts and the Victoria and Albert Museum, aims to bring together scholars in the fields of design history, material culture, design, fashion, textiles, craft, museology and conservation to explore this subject. The following themes are proposed:
• the artisanship of finish (traditional techniques, new technologies)
• surface and maintenance (gender and labour in historic objects)
• surface, quotation and simulation in textiles and craft
• finish in the development of standardised industrial production
• surface and the museum object
• surface and depth (theory, philosophy, methodology).
Surface Tensions is convened by Dr Victoria Kelley, University for the Creative Arts, UK and Dr Glenn Adamson, Research Department, Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The network will co-ordinate a programme of events and publications, commencing in Summer 2009. If you are interested in participating in or receiving news about Surface Tensions, please contact Victoria Kelley.
Surface and finish are important, yet overlooked, qualities within design history and material culture, as well as in many areas of creative practice. Since the late nineteenth century, the surface qualities of objects have been played down in a rhetoric of design that has valued form over surface, applied decoration or finish, prioritising ‘depth’ over the ‘superficiality’ of applied techniques. Discussions of patina, of processes of decay, and of deconstruction are no more than isolated fragments in a much wider field that is ripe for definition and investigation. In the initial application of surface techniques the emphasis is often on meticulously achieved, pristine, effects; the resulting surfaces are degraded in use. Yet this is not an inevitable process. The relationship between people and objects is often organized around strategies that maintain, re-polish and renew fragile and mutable surface qualities. This cycle is endlessly complicated in interpretation and practice, particularly when surface effects are understood as expressive of symbolic qualities or social values, or when designers artificially simulate the signs of wear or meticulous maintenance. This network aims to explore this subject through historical and theoretical study, contemporary practice, and the museum object.
Dr Victoria Kelley
University for the Creative Arts
Kent ME1 1DZ
United Kingdom Email: email@example.com
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