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Simon Raffy
photo of Simon

Materials fascinate me. I am trying to understand them and to help them express themselves. With this aim, it is important to combine the different ways. They correspond to different interpretations of the matter.

Matter’s understanding is very important in a lot of scientific (geology, biology, chemistry, physic, medicine…) and technological (aerospace, telecommunication, pharmaceutical…) disciplines. It can also be found in some other domain like art, handicraft, design and architecture. To get the widest point of view, it is important to practice several of those disciplines.

In another way, a growing gap appears between scientists and the other people because the scientific knowledge is increasing faster and faster. Most of the thinkers are taken away from actual research while they are the most capable to be the guardians of the ethic.

For those reasons, it is important to mix different disciplinary fields around materials (sculpture and physical chemistry in my case), in order to stay an actor of the research, and to open a window for everybody to see what happens in laboratories. Can a sample become a piece of art?

In the laboratories, my researches focus on the colloidal systems shaped by micro-scale flows. I have crafted extremely size-calibrated droplets in a yield stress fluid (below the yield stress, the gel doesn’t flow and gets a solid behavior: hair gel, mayonnaise…). The system is composed of a three-axis robot, a liquid tank (for the gel) and a syringe-pump. It is really close to 3D printing. The yield stress gel is used as a support for the injected fluid (it stops sedimentation or creaming of the droplets) and allows the injection everywhere in itself without consideration for gravity (references 1 and 2).

In an artistic way, I have made transparent resin massifs containing frozen flows. Pigments are injected during the polymerization reaction. Gravity induces the flows. The viscosity, the density variation and the reaction time control these flows. In a symbolic way, a material with a very high longevity freezes an ephemeral thing. The resin talks about itself: this material can live much longer than us.

Among all my projects, most of them would require a laboratory. I would like to sculpt granular flows, infinite bubbles, copper “coral”, to freeze explosions during their expansion, to make droplet’s races with surface tension propulsion, to create some new medias (for dance, music, painting…) and much more.
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