Alice Fang – Looking Outwards – 03

Vespers, Series 2, Mask 5. Bottom View. 2016. Photo: Yoram Reshef
Vespers, Series 2, Mask 5. Close-up view.

Vespers: Series II is the second of a three-part series produced by the Mediated Matter group at MIT’s Media Lab that explores how designing masks relates to “design (with) life.” This part examines the transition between life and death, and marks a progression from the first part of the project- looking at death masks as a cultural object- to the third part- using death masks as a “functional biological interface.” A theme that surrounds this second part is the idea of metamorphosis, moving from a symbol of life and death to the concept of wearable skins and interfaces.

The structures of these masks are designed to match actual biological structures observed in nature, and spatial mapping algorithms are used to translate color and geometry from the first part of the series into internal structures in this second part. Each mask also has a unique dataset that informs the distribution of the materials in its print.

I admire how a concept so abstract as this can create objects that are so detailed and delicate-looking from computer generation. It amazes me that these were 3-D printed, but I suppose 3-D printing has evolved so much in the past few years, where glass and porcelain can be printed now too. It’s also very interesting conceptually, to consider how the idea of life and death can transform into a technological and biological tool for skins and surfaces.

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