3D printed digital sculpt on concrete and resin base

Identity. Culture. Traditions.

These are words which should incite a sense of pride and celebration, especially with the recent 200th anniversary of the 1820 settlers’ arrival  in Algoa Bay. However, in the context of Africa’s timelessness as the cradle of humankind, I can’t help but be acutely aware of how short the tumultuous colonial history is that attempts to define present day South Africa. As an English-speaking ‘van der Walt’, trying to comprehend my place in contemporary post-colonial South Africa, leaves me both confused and apathetic. 

Materiality explores an artwork’s material properties as well as its origin, provenance, history and condition, it serves as a means to better understand the formal identity of the art-object itself, as well as its relevance and place in time. 

.stl_buffering.v. attempts to superimpose this encompassing analysis with my own personal explorations. The materials used speak directly to place as well as time; both as a point of historical reference and contemporary critique. The pedestal – a fusion of the finite and uncertain, solid and fluid, both crumbling and whole, is symbolic of land and sea. The two converge to create a platform which supports a figure, not yet fully-formed, the facets of it’s identity have not yet coalesced into certainty. He looks back, while walking forward. His blue form contrasts with the elementality of its base, its materiality is that of new media, physically occupying the space as a printed PLA thermoplastic, however, digitally identifiable as a surface by its triangular polygon mesh in the file format stereolithography (.stl). 

Ultimately, .stl_buffering.v. emphasises an identity which is undefined and content in its confusion. An identity that acknowledges, but is not defined by, the British sent in ships as an unknowing civilian ‘buffer’ in the Frontier/Xhosa Wars. Instead it is an identity which finds comfort in its contemporaneity, cultivated in computers and popular culture, with traditions enhanced by technology; always updating, continually developing and still buffering.

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