can I touch it? - the indescribable object designs by Audrey Large
3D (printing), installation
Interdisciplinary designer Audrey Large rethinks common object design methodologies by repeatedly switching from analog to digital in her process to artificially extend the lives of physical objects and materialities. In the 3-dimensional space the french artist is freed from any notion of gravity, weight and scale; giving her the freedom to create new materialities that at first seem like tactile illusions and then remind of ancient archetypes like vases or fountains.
Read the whole interview to learn how she uses 3D-printing in her process, and explores the space between the analog and digital through her art.
STK Your works remind me of 3D rendered objects that are placed into the real world via AR. Do you want to confuse the viewer? What exactly do you want to spur in the viewers eyes?
Audrey My work aims to question our perception of materiality in the context of the exponential digitization of our surroundings. I believe that looking at objects and the method by which we design them through the lens of the digital realm could help us envision our worlds and our ways of being beyond traditional and binary conceptions. In this context, I am moved by the question of the surface and its potential to be a fictitious and ambiguous substance upon which reality as well as hyperreality can be located. The objects I create look intangible, without contours, always open and vibrating. We do not know if they come from the past or the future, if they are made by a human or a machine. I like to play with a multitude of references without ever defining them precisely in order to let the user appropriate the artifacts firstly on a sensory level.
Objects are things that are close to us, that we no longer question. Associated with impossible forms, a tension between what we know and what we are confronted to is created, and this pushes us to linger and wonder what we think to be unchangeable, but which is in reality the place where a multitude of insidious choices are played out. For this reason objects represent for me a very interesting space to create positive confusions. Ultimately, when forms resist any description, the last bulwark against abstraction remains the function.
STK It's like the objects come from another world and want to communicate with me. What do the engravings translate into? Any hidden messages?
Audrey The objects are hand-sculpted digitally in a 3d modeling environment. There, I am freed from constraints of scale and gravity. Everything can happen or exist. In this blank space, lies the potentiality of new representational freedom. I kind of like to think that the fantasy of the image can become an object that renounces to depict a visible reality, but produces new modes of realities.
I like the spontaneous and direct incidence of the movement of my hand on the skin of objects that are sketched in three dimensions. Signs, words, numbers, monsters, birds, I actually don't try to name them. For me these objects are kind of shimmering images which juxtaposes in a single surface several elements that are themselves incompatible. I don't try to explain what I draw.
On the other hand, I have been building through time a repertoire of 3d models, shapes, drawing, that I copy paste, stretch, rescale and assemble freely together. I like the idea of a recognizable pattern or vocabulary that can be found on different levels of different artifacts.
STK I read you want to distance yourself from a rather fully-digital simulation - a metaverse. How are you exploring the space between the analog and the digital world to remain (at least partly) real?
Audrey We can sometimes feel the spiritual gap between our modes of being, the reality we live in, and our digital worlds. We quickly find ourselves anxious towards pessimistic digital futures, the fear of a total dematerialisation of our surroundings, our bodies, our identities and our relationships to one another. The problem with simulation is that it leaves us with weird feelings and it never totally fits—we can’t totally live it. Personally, I most often feel stuck in the binary conception of what's material and what's digital. Somehow, one is heavy and true, the other is immaterial and untrustworthy. On the other hand, I feel I am experiencing a reality far more complex than this dichotomy of perspective. Perhaps it is time to embrace these ambiguous conditions and think of materialities in another kind of way. Materialities that would travel through different and infinite states of matter, without internal hierarchy between them. I think this is a very important question that is left in the hands of object designers - those who design our closest material environment. If our ways of materializing are changing, what is the matter of our digital ages? How do we think about and manipulate this matter? My work navigates these questions.
STK Can you please describe the steps of your process, from painting to sculpture.
Audrey When I start to draw whether digitally or on paper, I don't really have a plan, the shapes build up and emerge as they come together. I render these files into digital images that I print on paper, I export them and 3d print them, I draw the 3d printed object on a sheet of paper, and I make a new 3d model out of the same elements, to afterwards draw it again, and 3d print it again.
There is no fixed methodology in this process, and I go back and forth intuitively with images and objects in a fluid way until the shapes feel right to me.
Having my own 3d printers and making everything in the studio allow me first of all to have physical feedback on my sculptures, but also to appropriate the forms that grow around me in the workshop as time goes on. Looking at and understanding the forms is important. I spend a lot of time just looking at the pieces and imagining their possible extensions.
At the end, maybe the digital files, as containers of multiple potential states of matter, are more material and real than its 3d printed manifestation, that represents one possible iteration of it.
STK What are you doing when you are creatively stuck at one point? How do you find inspiration for your work?
Audrey There are the activities I do every day, like reading, that help me find a balance and inspire me not in a direct way but rather on the inside. It's easy to get wrapped up in your work and have intense periods of focusing on a project without realizing that that's all you're doing and that it is ultimately too much. I would say that the best way is to completely escape from the studio and change context for a few days. Missing a plane home, consciously or unconsciously, has been incredibly good to me.