Beyond the Surface: The Behaviour of Digital Ceramics
Jan 22
Jan 31 2021
exhibition online

This exhibition features material experiments by Haptek Lab in partnership with the Creative Technology Lab at FCAD, Boston Valley Terracotta and the Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop. Haptek Lab aims to challenge the tendency within digital design and industrial ceramic manufacturing to treat all materials as quasi “non”-materials where materials are carved through without any sense of how the clay is behaving or even that it is there at all. In contrast, Haptek Lab aims to produce tactility within architectural scale terracotta through digital and robotic means: to develop a process to program craft and materiality into the tooling that teaches the robot to account for the behaviour of the clay. Exhibited prototypes and experiments explore what a digital touch or a digital fingerprint might look like and how a responsive digital design process might contribute to a new kind of tactile experience. Iterative prototypes are displayed as scientific specimens, enlarged and magnified to evoke an imaginative scale as an invitation for visitors to further examine the space beyond the surface. The exhibition will also be available as a virtual reality experience.

Haptek Lab is a design-research group that utilizes industrial robotic arms to explore industrial manufacturing of architectural ceramics beyond the surface. In so doing, we reject the disconnect between digital fabrication and the haptic qualities of material behaviour. Developing digital materiality based on tactile robotic feedback, we combine the digital (im)precision of robotic fabrication in clay with the haptic qualities of the handmade rooted in the craft tradition.


Digital Architectural Ceramics Symposium

In conjunction with the ‘Beyond the Surface’ exhibition, there will be an online Symposium on Saturday, January 30, from 1-2pm, featuring a presentation by Haptek Lab and a panel discussion with Omar Kahn (Co-organizer, Architectural Ceramics Assemblies Workshop) and moderater Garth Johnson (Curator of Ceramics, Everson Museum of Art) about the digital future of architectural ceramic assemblies.

Haptek Lab presenters include Linda Zhang (Assistant Professor, Ryerson University School of Interior Design), Jonathon Anderson (Associate Professor, Ryerson University School of Design—Director, Creative Technology Lab), Errol Willett (Associate Professor, Syracuse University School of Art, ceramics), Clare Olsen (Associate Professor, Cal Poly College of Architecture and Environmental Design), Naomi Frangos (Visiting Associate Professor, Cornell University, AAP, Department of Architecture), Amy Yan (Research Assistant, Ryerson School of Interior Design), Georgia Barrington (Research Assistant, Ryerson School of Interior Design) and Reese Young (Research Assistant, Ryerson School of Interior Design).


Linda Zhang, Jonathon Anderson, Errol Willett, Clare Olsen, Naomi Frangos, Amy Yan, Georgia Barrington, Reese Young, Omar Kahn, Garth Johnson



Who should visitors contact with questions regarding accessibility?
Haptek Lab
For projects with auditory components (e.g. talks, film screenings, tours), will there be sign-language interpretation, captioning, and/or live audio description?
captioned video
For projects with printed information, will it be available in large-format and/or Braille?
Beyond the Surface by Haptek Lab (Photographer: Linda Zhang)