Exponential Decay

January 2018

“Exponential Decay”, the title of Victor Seaward’s installation at Robert Young Antiques, the second in a series of Contemporary Collaborations, showcasing works by emerging artists, exploring relationships between historic and modern works of art.

Seaward lives and works in London. He received his BA in History of Art from Leeds University and MA in Painting from The Royal College of Art.

“Exponential Decay” refers to the mathematical function whereby a quantity is reduced proportionally to its current value. The installation followed this principle. Objects from the Robert Young Antiques Collection including C19th ivory spoons, a C17th goblet, a C20th milliners head and a C19th plumbers turnpin are placed on a metal table and reduced in scale by 50% four times over.

To create this exhibition Seaward scanned the original objects in 3D at the the Digital Manufacturing Department at the Royal College of Art. The scanner was able to retain the colour information of the objects, which were then applied as a mesh upon the 3D digital structures. The state of the art 3D printer sculpted the objects out of a gypsum based powder, layer by layer, and impregnated each layer with colour, much like an inkjet printer.

Seaward comments: “The original objects have an authenticity of patination which can only be attained by centuries of ageing and handling, it is accordingly an interesting exercise to try and replicate these nuances in fully digital manner which is totally alien to their original manufacture. The objects, unique and hand crafted undergo a transformation which makes them function almost as simulacra of the originals. This process draws up questions of authorship, mechanical responsibility and skill of production.”

In the seminal work of Art in The Age of Technological Reproduction (1935) Walter Benjamin stated that “what withers in the age of technological reproducibility is the artwork’s aura”. Aura can be understood as the unique here and now of an artwork, its unique spatial-temporal place in the world. Thus, it is interesting to view each reproduction side by side and consider each table as an accumulative withering, another reproduction of the original, yet with a progressively faded aura.