Digital Media: Models

Zhi Fei


The SPECIOUS MATERIALS series re-exam fake materials, not as an ethical problem (the betrayal of the classical modernism paradigm of “truth to the materials”) or ready-made industrial products made for economic or performance benefits, but as contemporary mediums that blend digital media into physical reality. To generate the artifacts, I hack into the making processes and create our own specious materials. The first step is digitization, which reassembles fragments of physical reality. Then the gathered data is manipulated, either on images or formally, to bring the artifact from the realm of digital hyperreal into digitally manipulated fake. Next, I apply a physical property that’s not aligned with its visual identity which can only happen in the digital space, strengthening its fictional quality. After this step, I materialize the seemingly fake material back into the physical world. To actually fabricate those, the base material choice to graft the digital material onto would be the material that conforms to the physical properties imposed in the digital space. Finally, the artifacts are presented in both the digital and physical spaces as equally real.

This is a real rock.

This is a fake rock. It is the digital scan of the real rock.

This is the real rock and the fake rock, side by side.

This is the manipulation of the fake rock. Now it has a metallic look.

This is the simulation of the manipulated version of the fake rock. It split and crumbled, performing a behavior real rock can’t in the real world.

This is the physicalization of that rock. The aluminum foil resembles its physicality in the digital realm.

By the way, this is not a real rock. It is a digital recording of the real rock.

Here are some of the rock artifacts made with the attempt to challenge our established expectations of the physical and chemical behavior of everyday material, and this is an ongoing result.

Unroll A Tree and Flip Inside Out

Physical “Photogrammetry” Process

GAN Generated Marble

Physical Inkling