"Maelstrom", Roman Kirschner, 2010

Liquid Things

Materials have always been transmitters of messages. Today they have acquired a new relevance as a result of the increasing flows of information that shape our societies. Consequently, many scientific fields are simultaneously developing ways of expanding the potential of matter to handle these flows. On the road to realising concepts like "programmable matter" or "adaptive architecture", research groups on "mediated matter", "transitive materials" and "metamaterials" have recently emerged. However, these young realms are characterised by a mechanistic way of thinking which leaves promising aspects of these novel, active and metamorphic materials unelaborated.
Considering Gaston Bachelard’s poetic essays on the influence of matter on imagination and that fact that our culture has been charged with ideas about transformations since the apparition of Ovid’s "Metamorphoses" two thousand years ago, we propose a practical and critical approach to the genuine advances in this field made by computer and materials sciences, physics and chemistry to face questions regarding issues such as the physical resonance of materials becoming active or their potential to cause a renegotiation of our material reality.
We take both referential contexts, namely the scientific developments and the imagination applied to transformations of matter and combine them to present new ideas, concepts and concrete actions with the intention of expanding artistic perspectives.
The project Liquid Things is organised in three modules: Material/Technology, Theory/Reflection and Art/Process, each including several international invitations for concentrated, time-limited cooperations ending in individual presentations. The first module focuses on experiments with novel materials; the second deepens the context and sets the theoretical framework for our research; and finally, the third consists of the creation of artistic prototypes. The main outcomes are presented in: two workshops on the artistic manipulation of active materials, a symposium that reflects on the theoretical and practical field addressed in the project in relation to art-based research, an exhibition that places the prototypes in a public venue for open discussion and a final published book, which summarizes the processes, collaborations, activities and results of the project. The three modules are deeply intertwined and allow the development of a critical and simultaneously deep and original collaboration with matter.
Roman Kirschner
Liquid Things is hosted at Art & Science at the University of Applied Arts Vienna.

Project leader: Roman Kirschner
Research: Yunchul Kim
Project director: Virgil Widrich

Funded by FWF, the Austrian Science Fund, within the PEEK-program (Programm zur Erweiterung und Erschliessung der Künste).