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Title: Plastic : a material metaphor : a conceptual and practical investigation of plastic qualities as material and as metaphor
Author: Woolf, Natalie
ISNI:       0000 0004 2729 6606
Awarding Body: Royal College of Art
Current Institution: Royal College of Art
Date of Award: 2004
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This study looks at plastic, in particular as a flooring material, and its role and influence on design practice and applied decoration. It addresses the potential for surfaces to incorporate digital technology and communications systems and proposes the development of a reactive flooring surface. The study is organised in two parts. The first sets out my personal experience and ambition for the development of flooring design and the evolving relationship between practical design work and theoretical investigation, on the nature of the conceptual and material qualities of plastics. It sequentially charts investigations into reproduction and quality for applied images, through a recognition and exploration of plastic as an inherent quality and its potential as a smart material, and finally presents projects that extend the term plastic as a metaphor for malleability. The Study concludes with a proposal for a representational behaviour for plastic material as it progresses into the realm of digital media. The second part covers a wide range of field research. It draws on critical theory and on cultural and historical commentaries on specific aspects of design, technology and development. Firstly, in order to contextualise the central proposal for a responsive flooring project, it presents a survey of projects and practitioners whose work also demonstrates a relationship between material and digital experience, establishing a framework for the discussion and charting of forms of interaction from a materials perspective. Secondly, it reflects on the limited tactile qualities of plastic materials and its emergent cultural symbolism. With plastic then employed as a metaphorical precedent, its historical development can provide a new perspective on the integration of emergent digital technologies into culture. Thirdly, the second part presents real material developments that signal the shift into new applications. And finally touches upon how the language of critical discussion can influence the understanding, and therefore developmental choices, in emergent technologies in the light of the way the term plastic has been affected by its common and cultural linguistic applications beyond its material substance. Thus, by drawing on the developments of material properties, and concentrating on a thread of inquiry based on Plastic qualities, the aim has been to bring digital possibilities into the physical realm, reinstating sensory experience.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available