“Maneuvering in the blurry gap between objects and their simulacra, Audrey Large uses digital cinema and image theory to reconsider object design methodologies. Her work analyses the reductive and manipulative processes ubiquitous to digital images, digital image processing, and object design standardization. […] Large is a raw material. She scours the internet for JPEG files, downloads them, and then intervenes in their coding to translate them into tangible artifacts.”
WORDS BY THE AUTHOR / The following text has been adapted from an interview with the artist.
ABOUT SCALE TO INFINITY / I was commissioned to make an online exhibition for the Nilufar gallery in the times of Covid-19. To me, it was important to not to create a representation of a physical show but to think about this project with its own set of rules – a digital platform that is not the solution to the inability to exhibit in a physical setting but that exists as a project in itself. For this narrative, an online display is working perfectly, as it is connature with my work and it places the viewer closer to my working process: they can interact with the files from which the 3D-printed objects will later on be materialised. My working method is very fluid: I 3D model, draw on paper, draw the 3D model, 3D print, draw on the 3D printed object, re-3D model the printed outcome (I have this growing library of models, that I often copy/paste, reintegrate into different objects in different scales, etc), and it was important for me to communicate this fluidity to the visitor/user.
The viewer can first experience a complex, almost architectural, floating 3D model file – turn it around, zoom in, lose the dimension of its scale. And later unravel the structure to access another dimension of the work. 19 little fragments reveal themselves through this process, which helps the viewer to better understand what they are looking at. Later on I fully materialised the model by 3D printing. This object is currently on display at my first solo exhibition called Some Vibrant Things at the Nilufar Gallery in Milan.
What I like about this piece is that it was firstly thought up and designed to be experienced on the screen. I see it as a kind of an impossible artefact that was not supposed to cross the surface of our screens but that somehow materialised by pushing digital fabrication further. I kept the unravelling process of experiencing the model, though. The physical object is made of a main structure from which 19 fragments/little bowls can be taken or added.
I am, in general, very interested in the idea of the files as containers of infinite/latent potentialities. In 3D space, there are no dimensions of scale, weight, gravity, colours… I first design a file and later on decide on its material properties and then link it to a function. I always dream of these models to be materialised on an architecture level – it doesn’t need to happen but the files contain this potentiality. I like this idea of constant ‘becoming’. Of a matter that travels between scales, from a physical to digital format, and the transformations that occur in between these steps. As a digital image, the files are matter that was made to travel, to transform, to become, infinitely.
ABOUT FOUNTAINS / I am always in search of the ambiguity of the surface, and of contradictions of our common sense about archetypal objects. For me, the Fountains are an interesting case for dialogue between history, fluidity and water – in between surfaces, reflections of the lights, what’s hard and what’s flowing. One of the Fountains came out of 3D print almost bone-white and I put blue ink in the water. With time and the water flowing, the surface of the fountain started to take the colour of the ink, revealing all the carved drawings and pathways on its surface. I like the idea of an ever-evolving object, of a complete dialogue between the function and the surface – the water became the object and the object the water, etc.
Triggering ambiguity and challenging our perception of materiality works for me by setting up sensory experience of objects that display movement, reflection of lights, transparences, iridescence. This narrative is very much based on the development of a personal visual language. It is an iterative practice that I constantly develop. I often refuse to explain the shapes I do and where they come from. When I model, they are very close to me and the way I feel in that moment. But I’ve always found it deceiving to give the keys to my inspiration to the viewer. I prefer to let them experience the object in their own way, through their own eyes. Asking what the objects are made of is also a very philosophical and metaphysical question that my practice investigates – what is matter and how do we challenge our perception of it, in an ever-evolving world. There is a moment where the object detaches from me as the author and is given to the viewer. It would close the ‘potentiality’ and the ambiguity if I would frame the objects into a coherent, rational narrative. It would, in a sense, contradict the very first intention of using the blank space of the 3D modeling software freely – as a space where anything can happen.
I would like to quote Hito Steyerl who influenced my practice a lot. She said that she doesn’t believe in the total digitalization of our world and ourselves but instead believes that we will be more and more material – but materialised in a different way. I think that it is an important and interesting question to be left in the hands of object designers, the ones that design our everyday surroundings. From that point, I started my research on the material properties of images and on the other way around, the image properties of objects.
My work doesn’t investigate ecology topics in a direct way but following the research of Jane Bennet tends to shift our common relation with everyday objects. It’s the acknowledgment that matter and objects that surround us are active, that they have agency and are vibrant, which pushes us to reconsider our way of being in a more ecological way. In my work, matter is never envisioned as passive, as ‘out there’, but always ‘in relation’ and ‘vibrant’.
ABOUT METAOBJECTS AND IMPLICIT SURFACES / (2018 – Ongoing) As an object designer, I like to think about digital images as the matter I work with in order to create objects, not with the primary purpose of functionality but rather on the pretext of proximity with the viewer, in order to challenge their perception of materiality. This questioning of materials requires rethinking the tools by which they are manipulated; thus, it questions the status of the designer whose role is to navigate through 2D images, 3D files, moving images and objects. 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.
Once 3D printed, the surface of these drawings-objects reveal a bas-relief in volumes brimming with different signs and shadows: the direct incidence of the spontaneous movement of my hand in the shape of the object. I like to envision manufacturing as an intuitive and sensitive methodology. Each step of the process interchanges fluidly without following a predefined order.
I call each iteration of this project ‘MetaObjects’. Iridescent, almost unreal, they so far materialized as vases, fountains, recognizable daily-life objects whose archetypal function I contrast with free forms to create ambiguous artifacts that articulate the codes of a futuristic digital aesthetic, cartoons or otherworldly ancient and baroque pottery carved by aliens. The MetaObjects project is an open exploration of the dialogue between form and technique, focusing on the translation of matter into different formats: still and moving 2D images, 3D objects, and the permeable intermediary zone.
I usually like to set up a sensitive attraction between the viewer/user and the artifact, as well as a visual tension between my work and its direct environment. Colour is a strong material for creating tactile illusions. It’s interesting to me when tangible objects resist language, when vocabulary for their description is missing. The function then becomes the last bulwark against the total abstraction of the object.
BIO / Audrey Large graduated with Cum Laude from the Design Academy of Eindhoven, The Netherlands, MA Social Design, in 2017 and then joined the artist residency program of the Jan Van Eyck Academy in The Netherlands between 2019-2020. Straddling between art and object design, her practice explores the potential of digital image manipulation processes applied to the design of our material surroundings. In a context of exponential digitization, she positions her practice in an interdisciplinary form of design that uses digital cinema and image theory as a field of research to reconsider object design methodologies. She currently pursues her research on the image-object, as well as conducting independent spatial interventions with the collective Morph.love, co-founded in 2018.