Maintaining authenticity: transferring patina from the real world to the digital to retain narrative value

Wallin, Rosemary and Stephens, Florian (2014) Maintaining authenticity: transferring patina from the real world to the digital to retain narrative value. Making Futures, 3. ISSN 2042-1664

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This research is concerned with utilizing new technologies to harvest existing narrative, symbolic and emotive value for use in a digital environment enabling "emotional durability" (Chapman, 2005) in future design.
The projects discussed in this paper have been conducted as part of PhD research by Rosemary Wallin into 'Technology for Sustainable Luxury' at University of the Arts London, and visual effects technology research undertaken by Florian Stephens at University of West London.
Jonathan Chapman describes vast consumer waste being "symptomatic of failed relationships" between consumers and the goods they buy, and suggests approaches for designing love, dependency, and even cherishability into products to give them a longer lifespan. 'Failed relationships' might also be observed in the transference of physical objects to their virtual cousins. Consider the throwaway nature of digital photography when compared to the carefully preserved prints in a family album.
Apple often use a skeuomorphic (Hobbs, 2012) approach to user interface design, to digitally replicate the patina and 'value' of real objects. However, true transference of physical form and texture presumably occurs when an object is scanned and a virtual 3D model is created.
This paper presents three practice-based approaches to storing and transferring patina from an original object, utilizing high resolution scanning, photogrammetry, mobile applications and 3D print technologies. The objective is not merely accuracy, but evocation of the emotive data connecting the digital and physical realm.
As the human face holds experience in the lines and wrinkles of the skin, so the surface of an object holds its narrative. From the signs of the craftsman to the bumps and scratches that accumulate over the life of an item over time and generations, marks gather like evidence to be read by a familiar or a trained eye. According to the time and the culture these marks are read within, they will either add to or detract from its value. These marks can be captured via complex 3D modelling and scanning technologies, which allow detailed forms to be recreated as dense 3D wireframe, but the result is often unsatisfying. 3D greyscale surfaces can never fully capture the richness of patina. Authentic surfaces require other qualities such as colour, texture and depth, but there is something else - more difficult to define.
Donald A. Norman expands on the idea of emotion and objects by describing three 'levels’ of design "visceral, behavioural and reflective". Visceral is based on "look, feel and sound", behavioural is focused on an object’s use, and reflective is concerned with its message. New technology is commonly seen in terms of its ability to increase efficiency, but this research has longer-term objectives: to repair or even rebuild Chapman's 'broken relationships' and enable ‘emotionally durable' design.
The PhD that has formed the context for this paper examines the concept of luxury value, and how and why the value of patina has been replaced by fashion. Luxury goods are aspirational items often emulated in the bulk of mass production. If we are to alter behaviour around consumption, one approach might be to use technology to harvest patina as a way to retain emotional, symbolic and poetic value with a view to maintaining a relationship with the things we buy.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Arts > Computer art
Film and television > Digital animation
Fashion and textiles
Arts > Art and design history
Depositing User: Florian Stephens
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2016 09:56
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2024 15:44


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