This research and dissemination agenda are closely aligned with the mission of the V&A Research Institute which will host the latest development of the work. The research output consists of a developmental sequence of four large-scale experimental artefacts exhibited internationally. These have been produced by working through an over-arching research question that investigates the creative potential of using 3D scanning and printing techniques (machine learning-IoT) not just to replicate/reproduce originals, but to transform scales and spaces and generate a new genre of (design and sculptural) artefact. The research has its roots in two award winning exhibitions in 2012 and 2014, where archives and objects were made available from the ‘Box’ Plymouth. The focus was how historical museum objects can be transformed for new audiences, developing new bodies of knowledge and interpretations of collections.
The continued significance of the research question has been focused through the digital re-interpretation of a group of 18th-century porcelain figurines by William Cookworthy; which themselves represent an historic Plymouth based technological breakthrough. Taking these figurines as model objects for the digital re-creation of new artefacts enables the research to draw on and re-interpret the heritage of core philosophies of place-based making, use of materials, and museological practices, as applied to technological innovation in art, design, and manufacture. A further exhibition in 2016 developed the research question in an international call to designers to explore the values of objects and materials, this was supported by the Smithsonian and the `Nowness Foundation’ Research Developments of this work were shown in Italy, London, Canada and Holland, these focused on the core elements of the histories of making, manufacturing and meaning.
As a pioneering contribution to creative industries research, this ongoing project also provides a key research and development demonstrator. The research rigor has revealed new insights and generated new geospatial forms, through unique scaling and data-combinations. These use generative and iterative design processes, specific and in relationship to the original artefacts of the 18-century. The scanning and data capture with additive robotic milling techniques transforms the originals into sculptural artefacts that do not need physical moulds. This can be seen as creating 'virtual' moulds with much greater creative flexibility for transformation, and especially scaling, via machine printing. This design technology research has been further informed by historical and museological research into the technical and cultural contexts of the original figurines which has shed new light on their dating and the use of non-invasive scanning techniques for the conservation of ceramic objects. Using the data recorded and employing new technologies combined with traditional artistic and craft techniques. This research has led into a more focused concentration on the abilities of Lidar scanning to measure, assess and communicate changes in environmental conditions.