|The picture above summarizes an exhibition "Sgraffito in 3D" (decorated ceramics by scratching drawings in a second layer of white clay laid over a red clay body before final glazing) by media artist Joachim Rotteveel, presented November/December 2008 at the Boymans van Beunigen Museum in Rotterdam . Sadly, this installation that is dedicated to a particular part of the collection of the Boymans Museum, has only been on show for two months which is somehow wasteful when one takes in account the amount of research and financial investment that has been put into it. One wonders why - in a more compact format - this new way of museum object presentation has not been integrated in the permanent show of the museum. Could it be that curators still - unconsciously - fear an approach whereby the museum visitor is not just 'eyes', but also has 'hands' that can take up, touch and manipulate objects?
It is both a scientific research project and an artistic and ceremonial display of ceramic objects from the 15/16th century sgraffito collection of this museum, that before led an hardly noticed life in the museum's depot and a view dull vitrines. Rotteveel brought these objects to life by a series of manipulations which combine the visual with the tactile, breaking through what seemed an eternal and unbridgeable divide between observer and object: the museum vitrine. Medical body scanners have been combined with computerized three-dimensional reconstructions both as 'virtual' images and real size three dimensional reproductions generated in an opaque strong material, produced by what is called a '3d printer'. The visitor can take these objects in his hands and follow the traces drawn half a millennium ago with his fingers while looking through the glass of the vitrine to the real object. There are more 'interfaces' to experience these objects, one with replicas of potsherds that have been visually coded with a barcode like mark (dot matrix code) which is recognized by a simple video camera and generates instantanously a reassembled version of the original ceramic on the screen that moves around with the hand and body movements of the visitor (giving a feeling of being a wizzard); another is an elegant printed big size book that can be leaved through whereby the process of perusing the pages generates parrallel iconographic information about the sgraffito on show on a screen next to the interfaced book. There is a web-site by the artist which - although it is work in progress - is worthwhile visiting... click the image above to go there ... and let me not forget to mention that I have the honor to have done a few projects together with Joachim in the past two years (digital scroll 'Ideas of Visual Language, still on show in the Museum of Communication in The Hague and the scrolling protocols used on the web site of 'Orbis Pictus ~ Theatrum Mundi'.
Click picture to see the dedicated web site of Joachim Rotteveel ...