BiomimesisBiomimesis: to mimic life; to imitate biological systems
Biomimetics: application of biological systems to engineering design
Biomimesis is an installation of slip cast porcelain sculptures created in 2009, which synthesises ancient and contemporary materials and processes. It consists of 5 objects: Generated Object 1 to Generated Object 5, abbreviated to go1 - go5.
The source objects for this installation were created as digital forms in 3D modelling software before being rendered as physical objects using rapid prototyping technology. Casts taken from these generated objects were then used in a slip cast process to produce the sculpture using liquid Southern Ice porcelain.
The pieces are hollow with walls 2-3mm thick, they are light yet have the strength and durability afforded by this fine porcelain. They are fired to 1280℃ in oxidation, which vitrifies the porcelain imparting the translucency and whiteness for which Southern Ice is renowned. The objects, which fit into the hand, have smooth polished surfaces, the result of a hand-finishing process which leaves the surface pebble smooth with a slight sheen and very tactile. I feel the beauty of Southern Ice porcelain does not require a glaze, but can be appreciated as a material in its own right.
Dimensions in Centimetres
Practitioners in a broad range of disciplines are turning to the natural world both for aesthetic inspiration and more effective solutions for a wide range of design and engineering projects. Whilst it may seem counter-intuitive, a rough rather than a smooth surface may be more efficient in assisting movement through air and water; researchers have found that the protuberances on the leading edges of flippers of the humpback whale and the rough surfaces of shark skin assist in speed and agility and reduce drag. Airbus, for example, has reported that their tests using a striated foil coating on aircraft similar to the texture of shark skin resulted in less friction and improved fuel efficiency. Such research and development coupled with the increasing sophistication of CAD/CAM systems has lead to the increasing use of novel materials, structures and processes in the world around us from the microscopically small to architectural projects such as those of Zaha Hadid. This project wishes to acknowledge such developments, which inform, inspire and provide the means for the construction of this sculptural installation. The generated objects illustrated here present aerodynamic or hydrodynamic forms inspired by lifeforms which have developed various means of locomotion to facilitate their navigation through air or water and their engineered counterparts designed to achieve the same objectives. They appear to combine an industrial and an organic aesthetic.
The images entitled 'digitalForms' or 'wireframe' are computer screenshots of biomimesis in a 3D modelling application. The other images are photographs taken with a macro lens and off-camera flash units.