Thesis Info

Thesis Title
Beyond the Swatch: How can the Science of Materials be Represented by the Materials Themselves in a Materials Library?
Zoe Laughlin
2nd Author
3rd Author
Number of Pages
King's College London
Thesis Supervisor
Mark Miodownik
Supervisor e-mail
Other Supervisor(s)
Alan Read
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Division of Engineering / Materials
Languages Familiar to Author
URL where full thesis can be found
materials, objects, materials science, materials library, swatch, cubes, tuning forks, bells, spoons, encounter, performativity, stuff, things
Abstract: 200-500 words
This thesis investigates the potential of materials to represent their science within the context of a materials library. Materials scientists and engineers select materials using the concept of quantifiable physical properties and map materials accordingly. Within the arts communities, processes of materials selection often employ less quantifiable mechanisms, where cultural and sensory perceptions sit alongside more pragmatic technical requirements. The culture and sci- ence of materials are both expressed in the objects that surround us every day. Much of the content of materials libraries is a mixture of objects in the form of material products and samples. The work of this thesis introduces a theory of material-objects and an isomorphic methodology for material-object creation that explores the relationships between form, function and materi- ality. It does so in an attempt to re-evaluate the nature of the contents of materials libraries and endeavour to highlight the science of materials. The theory and method are tested in the mak- ing and use of four sets of experimental material-objects; cubes, tuning forks, bells and spoons. These four sets of isomorphic material-objects attempt to advance the paradigm of the materials swatch and push the boundaries of the genre to reveal the social, cultural, philosophical and scientific aspects of materials and their relationship to objects. Each material-object renders the micro structures and behaviours of materials as experiential macro properties. In doing so the social, sensual and performative agency of materials is presented. Material-objects are used in the staging of a series of events that constitute experiments with encounter. Instances of material encounter are vital for the exchange of materials knowledge and the revelation of properties. The results of the research into material-objects and encounter offer a novel way of approaching the creation and curation of a materials library, with particular attention given to the development of new forms of swatches.