New Materials New Methods (Blowup Reader 8)

'New Materials New Methods ', is the eighth in the series of Blowup Readers. It explores the relation between innovation, art and science, and the hopes projected onto the possibilities of new materials and new methods: a massive ship made of ice was the fantastic project of the forties, what extreme projects can we conceive of today?

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Table of Contents

Introduction by Michelle Kasprzak

Interstice 1

Excerpt from "Churchill's Iceman" by Henry Hemming

Interstice 2

Learning from Fitzcarraldo by Karolina Sobecka

Interstice 3

Digital Alchemy by Giles Lane

Interstice 4

It's About Time: Prototyping and Intent by Greg J. Smith

Interstice 5

Proliferating Plants and Strange-Looking Eyes by Boukje Cnossen

Wildgroei en Vreemde Ogen by Boukje Cnossen





V2_'s multi-year research project on Innovation in Extreme Scenarios was inspired in part by the amazing but true story of British inventor Geoffrey Pyke and his idea to build an aircraft carrier made of a special kind of ice that he had created. This was not Pyke's only grand project, he was widely acknowledged as an eccentric but brilliant innovator who contributed to many aspects of society. The British Security Service (MI5) recently declassified a treasure trove of information about Pyke and his contributions to the Allies' efforts in WWII. British writer Henry Hemming has written a new biography of Pyke based on these recent revelations and on unlimited access to his archive. In researching his book, Hemming discovered evidence of a method for innovation that Pyke followed, and it is this method we explored in Day 1 of Blowup: New Materials, New Methods, by conducting a workshop on "How to Pyke". As part of the workshop, participants also heard about the contemporary uses for this intriguing material, from Roel Pluijman and Jorrit Hijl, two members of the team who made the Pykrete Dome (the world's largest ice dome, built in 2013) possible.

On the following day of Blowup: New Materials, New Methods, the public heard brief talks reflecting on innovation, art and science, and the role of new materials. The evening featured a live stage interview with renowned Dutch artists Driessens & Verstappen by Boukje Cnossen, insights into the innovative practices of Superuse Studios by their Head of Research Jan Jongert, and a re-enactment of a lecture on the divide between art and science by C.P. Snow, played by Giles Lane. Through its three formats (interview, lecture, re-enactment) this evening touched on the subject of innovation and creativity in a multiplicity of ways.

The events occurred on November 6 and 7, 2014. Archived footage of the November 7 event is available at http://v2.nl/events/blowup-new-materials-new-methods-day-ii and the V2_ Vimeo channel: http://vimeo.com/v2unstable

Notes from the Curator:

This eBook contains texts from the speakers at our Blowup event, as well as essays from other invited contributors. 

Giles Lane performed a stirring re-enactment of C.P. Snow's 1959 Rede Lecture, The Two Cultures, at the Blowup event on November 7. In our condensed version of this lecture, the focus was on Snow's astonishment at the insularity of the worlds of art and science and their inability to communicate. For this eBook, Giles has contributed a text from a Proboscis Studio project exploring the implications of using contemporary technology to express the condition of the body and of personal data -- a particular method of combining aesthetics and scientific data. Throughout this eBook, in the interstices, quotes from the edited version of The Two Cultures lecture which was performed that evening provide additional context and resonances with the essays.

Artist Karolina Sobecka participated in a V2_-sponsored expedition down the Amazon River and throughout Peru with The Clipperton Project in October 2014. Her participation in this expedition has culminated in the essay presented here, succinctly encapsulating her insights on the materiality and symbolism of a particular road she encountered on her journey. Designer and educator Greg J. Smith has also made a special contribution, in the form of a commissioned essay which touches upon the nature of innovation as it was expressed in the context of a very old problem -- and then how that problem has been spun today.

I'm delighted that we have permission to reprint two very special texts in this eBook. Firstly, the epilogue from Henry Hemming's brand new biography of Geoffrey Pyke, who has become a kind of patron saint for genuine innovation (at least to me). I'm also pleased to present, in the original Dutch and for the first time in English translation, a new text by scholar Boukje Cnossen, on the work of Dutch artists Driessens and Verstappen -- themselves pioneers of material, shape, and form.

I hope you enjoy this collection of texts and the archived footage of the public presentations that were part of this programme, at www.v2.nl.

Michelle Kasprzak
Curator, V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media
Rotterdam, 10/12/2014

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