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Amorphous Materials - Experiment 1

Ruth Brenner

Amorphous Support, after 12 days

Ruth Brenner’s practice is intuitive based on material exploration and the act of making.  Recently, she has been working with materials that have both fluid and solid properties.  Bitumen and rosin are two such materials; they appear solid and brittle at room temperature and yet can be highly viscose.  Ruth has been experimenting to find a way to accelerate the viscose state of the bitumen and rosin by adding other substances in order that the materials will slump over a number of days at room temperature, as opposed to years in the case of the bitumen.  The addition of an additive that increases the fluidity of a material has the effect of lowering the glass transition temperature which is a term that describes the temperature at which amorphous materials becomes soft upon heating or brittle upon cooling.  Rheology is the study of the flow and deformation of matter and has applications in materials science engineering, geophysics and pharmaceutics.   

Both the bitumen and the rosin have links with medicine and cosmetics. Rosin, a natural pitch produced from plants, could be understood as the blood of the tree and therefore has connotations of bodily secretions.  Bitumen has industrial connections but also has dark undertones and associations with punishment (tar and feathering).  Their links to science and industry together with their abject qualities provoke associations and perceptions that go beyond the formal qualities of any object.

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Fine Art, School of Arts and Cultures

Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom, NE1 7RU
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