Material Perceptions

Verba volant, scripta manent.


The human perception of the surrounding passes via materials. We acknowledge forms via materials; touch enables our mind to remember how tangible forms feel. By crossing the way we perceive any given material, our expectation of it and its physical properties, we give shape in our mind to what we understand as tangible. It is a complex process where we interface different kinds of “bits” of information.

For any human mind materiality is not physical. It is an interwoven entity that qualifies as such via a process that crosses the physical world and human imagination. Since digital reality is part of our everyday, this complexity is even more clear . Since social networks, like Instagram, became a form of communication, images left behind the passive rule of remembering, to enter the active process of “verbal” communication (I analysed the topic of digital “thickness” in this paper). If in the past we mainly used images to record events to be remembered, now images are part of our communication, as much as words. Our language sees words and images playing equal roles. The realm of “speaking” is no longer an exclusive of words; images help us to communicate globally, which meaning of course shifts from culture to culture.

As designer I am working on a design process which intents to use the role images have as “material” language; it is a process that employs human imagination and the perception of touch, but under the influence of digital modelling .

As wrote at the beginning of this post, materiality is an interwoven entity made of different factors, which embrace information stored from the past with new ones, which we acknowledge via human senses, touch for instance. The physical or digital image helps with giving a context; it guides human to move from familiarity to imagination. My intent is to employ our familiar understanding of materials – how they feel and how they look – to shape a form of hybrid tectonic. I call such process oxymoron tectonic. I borrow the meaning of oxymoron from poetry , and I use it as guideline that helps human creativity in the design process that sees the physical and the digital interfaced in the poiesis of art.





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