The project examines the transformation of a traditional object, the Azulejos, into a consumer object in terms of imagery, neomateriality and value creation within the tourism industry. Amid questions of tourism and gentrification, the project explores the transformation of Azulejos from hand made craft object to an image of itself. Superimposed onto multiple surfaces using the digital reproduction process, the image gains magical power to elevate the value of the object it has been inscribed over.
This value varies with the reproduction quality. A high-quality image would produce the illusion of handmade traditionalism, that the object is not of industrial origin. Inversely, towards the low-quality spectrum, the digital and industrial processes of mass production are clearly recognizable, rendering the souvenirs less likely to be consumed.
The neomateriality of the consumer object is one of the main points of interest in this project. Christiane Paul defines neomateriality as an “embeddedness of the digital in the objects, images, and structures we encounter on a daily basis and the way we understand ourselves in relation to them.” Neomateriality expresses itself within the contemporary culture in the form of objects that, as part of their form, reveal their own coded materiality, where that codification becomes a residue of digital processes.
Looking at the low-quality souvenirs and consumer imagery, in “LisbonLQ2.jpeg” the process of image-making and digitisation is being traced, attempting to find the human hand involved in the steps aiding in the creation of neomaterial consumer objects . With that exploring the main cause for the souvenir industry – tourism that led to gentrification and consequently visual scape of construction sites throughout central Lisbon. These two themes l have both been merged and investigated via a process of low quality tile creation, not striving for perfection but fixating on human hand and lack of precision and uniformity in the objects, not unlike the quick digital creation of images of tiles to be printed on blank tiles.
The residency @Zaratan was supported by the Arts Council Malta Travel Grant
Open Studio Sept 2019 @ Zaratan Contemporanea
(showing the project’s early stages)
The works involve experiments with imagery, ceramic tiles inspired by elements of construction sites, flawed low quality souvenirs bearing traces of flaws within the digital process they were created with.
The investigation is ongoing.