"plastic is the very idea of its infinite transformation; as its everyday name indicates, it is ubiquity made visible. [It is] a miraculous substance: a miracle is always a sudden transformation of nature. Plastic remains impregnated throughout with this wonder: it is less a thing than the trace of a movement."

Roland Barthes, Mythologies, 1957.


Plastic ever outplays its own entropy, always to find order in its fluid forms. It is little surprise plastic has its own entry in Barthes' classic collection of everyday myths. Writing in the 1950s it was the everyday consumption of plastic things that provided the landscape for a new way of thinking, prompting pop art, pop music, and cultural plasticity of all kinds.


This paper will present artworks constructed by 3D print technologies and synthetic imaging software

which will explore ideas of plasticity and art; of an ever malleable form and consider a relationship to the omni-unspecificity of digital technologies. It will seek to pose questions in art practice around mediation and remediation; of copies, scans, derivations, reconstructions, and virtual models. 


We might think of 3D printing and new imaging technologies as 'clean' tools, however the paper will explore the dirty aspects of the process, considering the spoil heaps and the paradata paradox of these objects. The paper will seek to explore an object itinerary of an inherently skeuermorphic product. 
The closing line of Barthes' essay on plastic is eerily prophetic: 'The hierarchy of substances is abolished: a single one replaces them all: the whole world can be plasticized, [...] even life itself since, we are told, they are beginning to make plastic aortas'.




Being Plastic _ Conference Paper_ Art, Materiality and Representation Conference, Royal Anthropological Institute,  British Museum,  1st-3rd June 2018


Part of the Making images, making worlds. Art-Process-Archaeology session convened by Ing-Marie Back Danielsson (Uppsala University) and Andrew Jones (University of Southampton) 


>Being Plastic _ Art, Materiality and Representation Conference, British Museum London 1st-3rd June 2018

>Ian Dawson