DARWIN is a project that celebrates the slippage between form, surface, and identity. Collaboratively designed and produced by students and faculty of the Illustration program at Emily Carr University, it employs industrial ceramic processes but adopts the aesthetics and collaborative dynamics characteristic of the explosive “Urban Vinyl” subculture. As a generic figurative form that lacks detail and invites transformation through surface design, Darwin appropriates the strategy of the designer toy “platform”, popularized by Toy2R’s Qee and KidRobot’s Dunny. Unlike the vinyl toys that inspired them, the Darwin figures are conceived and presented as an inquiry– an invitation to investigate our adaptive and/or conditional nature. Though the project employs a formal vocabulary derived from plastics and animation, a much older lineage of allegorical figuration is evoked by its translation into ceramic material.
The project aims to investigate how the collective and potentially disparate concerns of a group (in this case, a group of researchers) might be manifested symbolically or allegorically. This research project centers on how a collection of objects can communicate through their interrelation; a collection that does not strive for clarity or fixed meaning, but rather aims to act as a multiplicity of ciphers or intuitive triggers through which we might continuously revisit the complexities of a given question.
The glazed ceramic “blanks” provide an ideal opportunity for collaborative experimentation tied to the conference. Like his namesake, Darwin is all about adaptation. Any image can be translated into surface design, then be applied and kiln-fired onto the form with specialized ceramic decals.
Emily Carr University’s new Centre for Applied Art and Material Production (CAAMP) is an initiative dedicated to cultural inquiry regarding the contemporary circulation of images and objects. CAAMP proposes to participate in the upcoming Re/Search symposium with an experiment in the production of knowledge through the collaborative design and manufacture of objects, with the added challenge of integrating academic investigation with the mass appeal of collectibles, character design, and the entertainment industry.