Materials Development as Transdisciplinary Research Process
This article describes the development of a light-reflecting concrete. Since 2009 the authors have headed the BlingCrete working group at the University of Kassel, Germany. This group, which brings together experts from the fields of visual art, architecture, interaction design, industrial design, experimental physics, and materials research, is devoted to developing new material concepts. The BlingCrete project began as a series of artistic experiments with light-reflecting materials and the phenomenon of retroreflection. It is thus an exchange initiated from the artist’s position, in which ways of knowing and working that are specific to the sciences are harnessed in order to position and deploy them in artistic contexts—and vice versa. At the threshold between visibility and invisibility BlingCrete reveals the contradictions of material representation. The research project picks up that thread using such observations to generate further lines of inquiry and reconceive boundaries. With magnetic positioning we ultimately depart the spectrum of the visible for the invisible realm of nanoscale electromagnetic fields.
Keywords: Surface design, retroreflection, materials research, magnetic positioning, art and science