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Saturday, June 1 • 9:45am - 10:15am
(Research and Technical Studies) The Never-Ending Story of Conservation: New Technologies- New Challenges

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Contemporary works of art often pose particular practical and ethical concerns when they are made with techniques and materials others than those used traditionally by artists. Using objects in ways not intended may shorten their service life. Moreover, the use of new techniques since some years ago, such as 3D rapid prototyping, selective laser sintering (SLS) and fused deposit modelling (FDM), pose dilemmas to conservators and curators who have to decide whether damaged objects made with these techniques should be restored or remade.

Two case studies will be presented to illustrate these dilemmas and possible solutions. ‘Chandeliers’, an installation by the Dutch artist Madelene Berkhemer is one of the cases; the other is a vase by Marcel Wanders, a Dutch designer. Conservators should consider the role and context of an object being treated; in the case of contemporary works of art and design, this includes the artist’s and designer’s views on the object and how he or she intended it to look and to behave.

The artist Madeleine Berkhemer lives and works in Rotterdam. She creates erotically charged work. Her sculptures, drawings and performances are defined by the heterogeneity of their materials and styles. Her work is an investigation of the dimensions of time and space and a radical examination of social and economic conditions. The artist installations include nylon stockings tied around objects and the stress imparted in the stockings by this wrapping might accelerate the ageing of the work of art. Moreover, the environment in which the installation is displayed affects the life span of the object. To prolong the life of these works of art, a research project to investigate possible consolidation treatments has been set up at RCE, in close collaboration with the artist herself.

Nowadays many polyamide (nylon) objects can be designed and created using 3D rapid prototyping. Jewellery, vases and other design objects made by these rapid prototyping techniques, such as the snotty vases of Marcel Wanders, are nowadays highly appreciated collectibles. Conservation treatments for 3D rapid prototyping nylon objects are unknown and, therefore, the cleaning and repair of the broken parts of a snotty vase by Marcel Wanders showed to be a challenge.

The question of whether it is more cost effective to invest time in researching the conservation of these objects or to have them remade or restored using 3D techniques is possed.
At RCE, investigations have been made to observe the behaviour of some 3D rapid prototyped nylon objects under the influence of changes in light, %RH and temperature in order to set up guidelines for care and preventive conservation. Results will be presented at the conference.


Anna Laganá

RCE (Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands)

Thea van Oosten

RCE (Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands)

Saturday June 1, 2013 9:45am - 10:15am EDT
JW Marriott White River Ballroom A-B 19 S West St Indianapolis, IN 46204

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