Atlas of Lost Finds

For UNFOLD STUDIO with the  Museu Nacional, Brazil.
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REMATERIALIZATION OF AN ARTIFACT LOST
IN THE 2018 FIRE AT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF BRAZIL, RIO DE JANEIRO


Digital scanners have allowed museums to easily catalogue valuable pieces of their collections, but what does this data represent when original artifacts are damaged, inaccessible, or lost to time? This project seeks to explore what it means to physically rebuild lost historical objects and the influence these rematerialized pieces have on our understanding of the original.

Produced for Atlas of Lost Finds’ collection of recreated lost historical objects, this ceramic piece utilizes 3D scans of a damaged pre-Columbian Chimú water vessel to produce a diagrammatic rematerialization which seeks to restore missing data concealed on the inside of the vessel, hidden from surface scanning.

By comparing similar pottery belonging to the Chimú and other related cultures, a theoretical model of the interior was developed to simulate characteristics common in this type of pottery. The vessel was then rebuilt the from the inside out, 3D printed using a custom formulated clay paste and computer-controlled toolpaths to exaggerate qualities such as variations in interior wall thickness, artifacts of hand construction commonly found on the inside of this type of pottery, and traces of the assembly process historically employed in the creation of ancient Peruvian stirrup-shaped water vessels.

In this recreation, the vessel’s rematerialized form grows out of once missing interior information, recontextualizing the identity of the original object from one defined by its exterior shell to one which emphasizes the complexity and importance of information existing below the surface. The interior was finished in an oversaturated metal-oxide glaze which reacted to variations in the clay’s composition, resulting in a complex matte-gold and mirror-metallic surface in response to the underlying clay form.

Atlas Of Lost Finds is an initiative by Unfold Studio, Antwerp, Belgium.

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