Engraving Property

Unfolding from the chapter 1650°C on my research on warmth, “Engraving property” is a pre-research on iron-casted firebacks. It was shaped for the occasion of a design residency open call. 

           Firebacks are iron casted plates covering the interior of fireplaces. They raised from the practical urge to protect the walls from harsh heat emanated from the fire once the fireplaces were moved from the centre of the room to wall-sided frontal apparatus. The physical attributes of iron also offer the consequential benefits or radiating the heat accumulated back into the room.

Those fireplace back-scenes became privileged places to depict strong iconic messages: allegiance coat of arms of the house were engraved on them. Placed in the symbolic center of the building, they were brought to life by the moving lightning of the flames.

In France, right after the Revolution, a decree was signed. Every ‘contre-coeurs’ of every house of the country mentioning the royal “fleur de Lys” had to be turned: suddenly planking against the walls their problematic iconographic content. This way, the power of those images can already be approached through this historical anecdote, through this heavy physical gesture.

Everywhere else, many plaques have disappeared because they represented valuable resources once melted back to their “original state”. And nowadays, some of those buildings hosting the firebacks became museums, switching their hot, functional, domestic fireplaces into cold and empty frames.


Around 1650°c in my research on rising warmth (p. 107), I came to be interested in the firebacks artefacts and their production processes.Through this topic, I am interested in the fusion point between vernacular, craftsmanship, industry, reproductible. I also have strong interests in the symbolic surrounding the fireplace and in the heraldry of firebacks for what they inform us about social memberships, power relations. This goes hand in hand with my current interests in transmission, fluidity, common, hospitality, empathy, care.

I would like to study the status of firebacks becoming obsolete -ghost- objects. I would like to research their iconographic nature as well as their geographical and historical anchors. I want to explore the archeology of metallurgy technics and iconography, following the development of industrial growth.

anxious explorer

here is the moodboard and footnotes gathered to build the character anxious explorer from the orphans of Tar.


The anxious explorer is a porous character co-evolving in an empty plot. the footnotes she gathers are the only lyrics she would sing.

1. Michel Foucault, “Des espaces autres,” Conférence au Cercle d’études architecturales, 14 mars 1967, in Architecture, Mouvement, Continuité, no 5 (1984), 46 – 9. Note: the garden would be the oldest example of heterotopia according to Foucault. It is Tondelier, the mind, the group and project we are in, the text ...

2. Wikipedia. 2019. “Cabinet of curiosities.” https://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Cabinet_of_curiosities (accessed 29.08.2019). Note: Cabinet of curiosities (in German: Wunderkammer) were notable collections of objects. The term ‘cabinet’ originally described a room, rather than a piece of furniture. Modern terminology would categorize the objects included as belonging to natural history (sometimes faked), geology, ethnography, archaeology, religious or historical relics, works of art (including cabinet paintings), and antiquities.

3. “The neuroscience of Aesthetics and Art, Anjan Chatterjee.” YouTube video, 1:28:55. “George Kalarritis, Clinical Psychologist,” 19.12.2016. https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=R-ktej6TGq8 (accessed 29.08.2019). Note He calls his approach “aesthetic from below”. For instance, he connects the common drive for bright colours to the primal need of vitamin C that resulted in gathering fruit in early stages of human evolution.

4. Carrie Lynn Bailey, “Overexcitabilities and Sensitivities: Implications of Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration for Counseling the Gifted,” Academia, https://www.academia.edu/967019/Overexcitabilities_and_Sensitivities_Implications_of_Dabrowskis_Theory_of_Positive_Disintegration_for_Counseling_the_Gifted (accessed 29.08.2019). Note: One could say that one who manifests a given form of overexcitability, and especially one who manifests several forms of overexcitability, sees reality in a different, stronger, and more multifaceted manner. Reality, for such an individual, ceases to be indifferent, but affects him deeply and leaves long-lasting impressions. Enhanced excitability is a means for more frequent interactions and a wider range of experiences. (...)

5. Hilde Bouchez, A Wild Thing, Essays on Things, Nearness and Love, (Paris: Art Paper Editions, 2017), 85 – 89. Note: According to Hesiod, first there was Khaos, then Came Gaia and Eros. The Orphic Eros is the god of art, the representation of beauty and inspiration. Socrates explains that love comes out of nowhere, as if on wings. It is a turbulent force that takes control of the psyche and the body, but also makes people grow. (...) Eros is located at the centre of all dualities: between the beautiful and the ugly, between good and evil and, of course, between life and death. (...) Love is terribly restless; it cannot wait for its object, and it is very much in need of the longing that comes from separation from the object of desire. Eros and love can only exist between Being and Becoming.

6. Bertrand Prévost, “Direction-dimension: Ninfa et putti,” in Images Re-vues, histoire, anthropologie et théorie de l’art, Hors-série 4, 2013, https://journals.openedition.org/imagesrevues/2941 (accessed 29.08.2019). Note: We know how Warburg gave figure to what he called “the schizophrenia of Western civilization”: by the dialectic of “the ecstatic (manic) nymph on the one hand, and (the) melancholic (depressive) river god on the other”. This is, indeed, a polarity, in the Warburgian sense of the term, and not a simple opposition, in that the relationship between the two poles is a deeply dialectical one: one term does not go without the other—the two are always in a relationship of reciprocity. The image of the pendulum or even the oscillatory movement, used by Warburg himself, is particularly eloquent: it is a way of saying that Ninfa and the river god designate the extreme positions of an interval, within which the images are always Ninfa and river god. And if these positions, as formulas of pathos, are embodied in bodily attitudes, it is less necessary to see them as stations (standing/lyin down) than as deeper dynamisms: standing/falling, rising /falling. Georges Didi-Huberman masterfully showed this dialectic in his Ninfa moderna since what he calls the “decline of Ninfa” is none other than his sovereign depression—a way of signifying something like Ninfa’s permanent melancholic transformation into a river god. Further reading: Georges Didi-Huberman, Ninfa Profunda, Essai sur le drapé-tourmenté (Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 2017).

7. Roland Barthes, Fragment d’un discours amoureux, (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1977), 7. Note: Dis-cursus is, originally, the action of running here and there; there are comings and goings, “approaches,” “intrigues.” The lover never ceases to run in his head, to take new steps and to intrigue himself. So, the lover who is prey to his figures struggles in a slightly crazy sport. He prays on himself; like the athlete, he sentences, like the speaker, he is seized, stunned in a role, much like a statue. The face is the lover at work. (...) If there is an “Anxiety” figure, it is because the subject sometimes shouts out (without worrying about the clinical meaning of the word): “I am anxious!”, “Angoscia!” sings Callas somewhere. The figure is in a way an opera aria; just
as this aria is identified, “remembered,” and handled through his incipit. (...) Throughout his life, the figures appear in the subject’s head without any order, because they depend each time on chance (inside or outside). To each of these incidents (what “falls” on him), the lover draws from the reserve (the treasure?) figures, according to the needs, the injunctions, or the pleasures of his imagination. Each figure explodes, vibrates alone, like a sound cut off from any melody, or repeats itself, satiated like the motif of soaring music. There is no logic that binds the figures, that determines their contiguity; the figures are out of syntagm, out of narrative. They are Erinyes; they shake, collide, calm down, return, and move away, without more order than a flight of mosquitoes. The love discourse is not dialectical; it turns into a perpetual calendar, an encyclopaedia of emotional culture (in the lover, something of Bouvard and Pécuchet

8. Wikipedia. 2019. “Flower (video game).” https://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Flower_(video_game) (accessed 29.08.2019). Note: Flower is a video game released in February 2009. Flower was primarily intended to arouse positive emotions in the player, rather than to be a challenging and “fun” game. Flower is divided into six main levels and one credits level. Each level is represented by a flower in a pot on the window­ sill of a city apartment. Upon selecting a flower, the player is taken to the “dream” of that flower. Once inside a level, the player controls the wind as it blows a single flower petal through the air. Changes in the pitch and roll of the floating petal are accomplished by tilting the PlayStation 3 controller. Pressing any button blows the wind harder, which in turn moves the petal faster. The camera generally follows just behind the petal, though it sometimes moves to show a new objective or consequence of the player’s actions.

9. Wikipedia. 2019. “Butterfly Effect.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_effect (accessed 29.08.2019). Note: In chaos theory, the Butterfly Effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one stat of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. The term is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a tornado (the exact time of formation, the exact path taken) being influence by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier. Wikipedia. 2019. “Chaos theory.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory (accessed 29.08.2019). Note: “Chaos ... theory discusses self-organization in terms of islands of predictability in a sea of chaotic unpredictability.” “The term edge of chaos is used to denote a transition space between order and dis- order that is hypothesized to exist within a wide variety of systems. This transition zone between the two regimes is known as the edge of chaos, a region of bounded instability that engenders a constant dynamic interplay between order and disorder. Wikipedia. 2019. “Self-Organization.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-organization (accessed 29.08.2019). Note: Self-Organization also called ‘sponta- neous order’ in the social sciences, is a process where some form of overall order arises from local interactions between parts of an initially disordered system. The process can be spontaneous when sufficient energy is available, not needing control by any external agent. It is often triggered by random fluctuations, and amplified by positive feedback. The resulting organization is wholly decentralized, and distributed over all the components of the system. As such, the organization is typically robust and able to survive or self-repair substantial perturbation.

10. Wikipedia. 2019. “Gameplay of Pokémon.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gameplay_of_Pokémon#pokédex (accessed 29.08.2019). Note: Pokémon Zukan (lit. “Pokémon Encyclopedia”) is an electronic device de- signed to catalogue and provide information regarding the various species of Pokémon. The name Pokédex is a portmanteau of Pokémon and index. In the video games, whenever a Pokémon is first caught, its height, weight, species type, and a short description will be added to a player’s Pokédex. It is a central tool in this game which has, as a baseline “Catch’em all !”. Websites gathering data and online fan forums are often called Pokédex.

11. Wikipedia. 2019. “Porosity.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Porosity (accessed 29.08.2019). Note: Porosity or void fraction is a measure of the void (i.e. “empty”) spaces in a material. It is a fraction of the volume of voids over the total volume, between 0 and 1, or as a percentage between 0% and 100%. Wikipedia. 2019. “Permeability.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Permeability (accessed 29.08.2019). Note: The perme- ability of a medium is related to the porosity, but also to the shapes of the pores in the medium and their level of connectedness. In fluid mechanics and in the earth sciences, it is a measure of the ability of a porous material (often, a rock or an unconsolidated material) to allow fluids to pass through it.

12. Wikipedia. 2019. “Empathy.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Empathy (accessed 29.08.2019). Note: The definitions of empathy encompass a broad range of emotional states, including caring for other people and having a desire to help them, experiencing emotions that match another person’s emotions, discerning what another person is thinking or feeling, and making less distinct the differences between the self and the other. It can also be understood as blurring the division between oneself and another. Having empathy can include having the understanding that there are many factors that go into decision-making and cognitive thought processes, and that past experiences have an influence on the decision making of today.

13. Kenneth Goldsmith, Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age, (Paris: Jean Boite éditions, 2011), 203. Note: No one can dispute that notions so long honored with creativity are under attack, eroded by file sharing, media culture, multiplication of sampling and digital clones. What is the response of writing to this new environment? The challenge of this course will be to summon the strategies of appropriation, cloning, plagiarism, piracy, sampling, and looting as methods of literary composition. (...) We will see how modern notions of chance, protocol, repetition and the aesthetics of boredom intertwine with popular culture to usurp conventional notions of place, time, and identity as they are expressed linguistically.

14. Jean Claude Ameisen, “Ressentir le monde,” Université Paris- Diderot, 13.11.2013, Conférence. https://www.canal-u.tv/video/universite_paris_diderot/ressentir_le_monde_jean_ claude_ameisen.13789. (accessed 29.08.2019). Note: If our senses open us to the world, they also restrict us from a part of reality. For example, the nectaire, a small region surrounding the place where nectar is found on some flowers that appear white to us, appear coloured to bees, thanks to their sensitivity to the spectrum of ultraviolet light. It is as if an ecosystem was made of living beings that do not perceive the same way, as if there were no more than fragments of a mirror, or different reflections of reality.

15. “The neuroscience of Aesthetics and Art, Anjan Chatterjee.” YouTube video, 1:28:55. “George Kalarritis, Clinical Psychologist,” 19.12.2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-ktej6TGq8 (accessed 29.08.2019). Note: describes neuro-images of people experimenting beauty and discusses a momentum of “spacing out”, or disconnecting, and then spacing back in after a flow of diverging images, or a succession of memories opening up and connecting subjectively. Meaning: this short moment of being dropped somewhere else when facing beauty).

16. Wikipedia. 2019. “Serendipity.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Serendipity (accessed 29.08.2019). Note: Serendipity refers to an unplanned, fortunate discovery. Serendipity is a common occurrence throughout the history of product invention and scientific discovery. Serendipity is also seen as a potential design principle for online activities that would present a wide array of information and viewpoints, rather than just re-enforcing a user’s opinion.

17. David Freedberg, Vittorio Gales, “Motion, Emotion and Empathy in Aesthetic Experience,” in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Vol, 11 No.5, 2007. Note: The painting will move the soul of the beholder if the people represented in it each clearly show the movement of their own soul. We weep with the weeping, laugh with the laughing, and grieve with the grieving. These movements of the soul are expressed in the movements of the body.

18.  Wikipedia. 2019. Fête Galante. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Fête_galante (accessed 29.08.2019). Note: Fête Galante is a category of painting created by the French Academy in 1717 to describe Antoine Watteau’s (1684–1721) variations on the theme of the Fête Champêtre, which featured figures in ball dress or masquerade costumes frolicking in parkland settings. After the death of Louis XIV in 1715, the aristocrats of the French court abandoned the grandeur of Versailles for the more intimate townhouses of Paris where, elegantly attired, they could play and flirt and put on scenes from the Italian commedia dell’arte. Fête Galante paintings are an important part of the Rococo period of art, which saw the focus of European arts move away from the hierarchical, standardized grandeur of the church and royal court and toward an appreciation for intimacy and personal pleasures. (...) By portraying his patrons in scenes reminiscent of the mythologized land of Arcadia, where humans had supposedly lived in leisurely har- mony with nature, Watteau was able to get his paintings the highest ranking at the Académie and still flatter his buyers.

19. Roland Barthes, Fragments d’un discours amoureux, (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1977). Note: Ravishment: episode deemed initial during which the subject is in love “ravished” (captured and enchanted) by the image of the beloved object.

20. Wikipedia. 2019. “Inertia.“ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Inertia. (accessed 29.08.2019). Note: Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to any change in its velocity. This includes changes to the object’s speed or direction of motion. An aspect of this property is the tendency of objects to keep moving in a straight line at a constant speed when no forces act upon them. In common usage, the term “inertia” may refer to an object’s “amount of resistance to change in velocity” (which is quantified by its mass), or sometimes to its momentum, depending on the context. The term “inertia” is more commonly understood as shorthand for “the principle of inertia”, as described by Newton in his first law of motion: an object not subject to a net external force moves at a constant velocity. Thus, an object will continue moving at its current velocity until a force causes its speed or direction to change. On the surface of the Earth, inertia is often masked by gravity and the effects of friction and air resistance, both of which tend to decrease the speed of moving objects (commonly to the point of rest). This misled Aristotle to believe that objects would move only as long as force was applied to them.

21. Wikipedia. 2019. “The Salon.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_ Salon. (accessed 29.08.2019). Note: The Salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation. These gatherings often consciously followed Horace’s definition of the aims of poetry, “either to please or to educate.” One important place for the exchange of ideas was the salon. The word salon first appeared in France in 1664 (from the Italian word salone, itself from sala, the large reception hall of Italian mansions). Literary gatherings before this were often referred to by using the name of the room in which they occurred, like cabinet, réduit, ruelle, and alcôve. Before the end of the 17th century, these gatherings were frequently held in the bedroom (treated as a more private form of draw- ing room): a lady, reclining on her bed, would receive close friends who would sit on chairs or stools surrounding her.

a research on rising warmth with a few detours

This pdf is the connecting project of my MA Autonomous Design. The publication is the result of my research on heat and fire as a transformative/performative culture-producing process. It combines (art) historic and anthropological facts and fictions, imagery that was found online, my own sketches, and life experiments connecting interests and methods such as food preparation, ceramics, and material research  in relation to contemporary dynamics and discourse around artisanal production and alternative community building. It reflects on the entwinement between the chemical, technical and the cultural:  indeed, warmth was looked at as a physical phenomenon as well as a social feeling. The editorial principle follows a graph showing a rising temperature.

pdf is available
contact vaultier.clementine@gmail.com

a printed bookform on my on-going research on warmth (presented during final jury @KASK, Jun 2019)

© Roxanne Gaucherand

excerpt of a discussion about my book with Aurore. 

“    Dans le bouquin j’ai tout réorganisé par température, parce que j’avais une dose de sujets et je ne savais pas trop comment faire. Je me suis dis en fait, tout ça ça a un lien avec la chaleur, donc la température. et du coup j’ai mis des sortes de chapitres bout à bout le long de l’échelle de temperature (et que j’ai articulé dans tous les sens dans ma tête) : congélation / préhistoire - hiver / conservation - été / festivité - bbq / four …  Les limites sont progressives, entre ton toi qui est au ralenti en hiver, qui fait la fête en été, si tu rajoutes 30°C degrés de plus, tu cuis comme la viande que tu manges. j’aimais bien cette continuité de matière. ensuite viennent d’autres matières qui demande des températures encore plus hautes, et qui ont nécessité une accumulation de techniques en perpétuel evolution avec les états de savoirs, de sciences, etc des époques. donc indirectement il y a une sorte de trame temporelle : on fini avec la meilleure compréhension de l’excitation moléculaire dans la technologie du plasma qui reproduit une sorte d’éclair, température la plus haute appréciable sur la surface de la terre, qui permet de découper le métal avec une précision folle, une rapidité folle aussi et qui pousse l’industrie a se perfectionner, de la même manière que la compréhension de principes d’isolation, d’apport d’air et de combustible pour nourrir un feu a permis de faire évoluer le four alimentaire en four assez performant pour transformer l’argile en céramique pérenne (573°C).

Il y a donc un élément d’apprentissage progressif, souvent basé sur la soif de comprendre, sur l’expérimentation et le fun mais surtout donc sur la reproduction et l’imitation, basée sur l’observation de ce qui est visible dans notre environnement (reproduction d’un bestiaire en céramique par des peuplades survivant de la chasse, arrivée de la porcelaine asiatique par l’ouverture du commerce maritime jusqu’alors inconnu : on tente de reproduire la technique, observation de phénomène physique comme la pression…)

je voulais aussi attirer l’attention sur le dynamisme de toute chose, de décloisonner ce qu’on pense comme des oppositions : artisanat / industrie, technique / technologie, primitif / initié, animal / humain. qui sont pour moi plutôt à la limite des evolutions, des dynamiques, voir des perceptions de contextes différents. Les valeurs qui en découlent plus largement sont l’empathie, la solidarité, la communication, l’accueil (que je met en parallèle de phénomène physique comme la porosité, la perméabilité)

Il y a aussi un élément de progression exponentielle vers une chaleur inqualifiable, incompréhensible par nos sens corporels, qui en l’occurence est représenté par le dernier “chapitre” (disons plutôt marqueur) les éclairs : force qui vient du dessus et frappe. avec une notion imprévisible et quasi-sacré, en tout cas symbolique. Vu l’idée de progression temporelle via la chaleur, on s’éloigne petit à petit du feu premier pour aller vers des technologies évoluées, on peut aussi se poser la question de la suite ? et d’une limite ? ou d’une explosion ? d’une rupture. enfin en tout cas d’un inconnu. en lien avec la grandeur d’éléments naturels qui dépasse la condition humaine. ça replace l’humain dans un système d’échelle plus grand.”

flying carpet

This carpet is a woollen piece I designed while researching heat in relation to lightning and the formation of Earth. I was looking for a light but comfortable and welcoming apparatus for the master jury. This carpet has been thought to travel, to define a warm space within any space. It is a porous platform to host work meetings, reading sessions, geology lessons, birthday parties and other gatherings. It was made with the technic of tufting in the studio of a craftsperson based in Ghent.

© Vanessa Müller

_Foucault, of others spaces

_Bruno Munari, Circle, Square, Triangle

_ INSIDE, A lecture-performance by Bruno Latour

Mud Max

Mud Max is a film edited to document the 2018 event “paper kiln for clay barbecue”. It follows the building and firing of a handmade ceramic barbecue and the whole social gathering and technical transmission it involved. A story about proto ceramics exploding on the fire inside a prehistoric hut precedes the documentation. The barbecue was built and fired collectively in situ at KASK, then offered as a public device for students until it will eventually fall apart. 

image : Roxanne Gaucherand
sound : Vincent Hénaff
editing : Léo Parmentier
sound design : Valentin Mazingarbe
voice over : Alice Khampone

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