“Creators at ZER01NE basically do not have fear of media. There are no huddles that mark boundaries. They go over to the other side or come back later. That’s just how flexible they are. If they ever have desire to make something, they just go on and try, regardless of the media, technology, or material. They do not care about impossibility and are free from visual images. People with these tendencies are accidently gathered together in ZER01NE. Meeting someone like you is important as itself. This is the biggest merit of being at ZER01NE as a creator.”
There are people at ZER01NE who play with materials that you have hardly heard about, such as hydrogel electronic ceramic resin, and fluoridated ketone. They participate in a project called “MR lab (Material Research Lab)”. It might sound like the name of a start-up, but the project team consists of ZER01NE creators, talking about difficulties in adjusting the extent of hardening of the materials. Here we feature a talk with ZER01NE creator Yang Sookhyun for those who are curious about MR lab.
Q. Would you introduce ZER01NE’s ongoing project MR Lab (Material Research Lab) in short?
A. MR Lab is a research project where the creators use expanded and generalized technology to conduct experiments on properties or change of materials and record the observation process. Currently, the creators Yang Sookhyun, Lee Jangwon, Hyun Parke, Hoonida Kim, Dakd Jung, Cho Hoyoung, Choi Jinoon, and Kim Sungbaek are participating.
Q. It seems quite a large project, consisting of eight creators. How did the members get to come together?
A. In March and April, ZER01NE networking was held and the team was assembled on May to start the project straight on. There were surprisingly a lot of ZER01NE creators interested in materials. To openly recruit the team members, I wrote a post on the studio bulletin board that says “If you want to participate in material research, please write your name,” and then the most gigantic (?) creator team at ZER01NE was created.
Q. MR Lab focuses on the actions and results, whether intended or not, that are found in the non-predictive processes and experimental activities. Do you have an episode where unexpectable things happened or any new discovery was made during these novel experiments?
A. MR Lab does not entail a series of processes in order to achieve an established goal. For us, what is most important is the actions and results, whether intended or not, that are found in the non-predictive processes and experimental activities. I do have an interesting episode. A few days ago, for his research, the creator Choi Jinoon bought gallium, which is a metal similar to mercury but harmless to humans and becomes liquefied only at 42 degrees. We were having a team meeting in a lab and Hyun Parke played a little bit with gallium, heating up the gallium container and throwing it around. Then the solid gallium was liquefied and burst out from the container, leaving the floor and the table covered in the silver matter all over. We tried cleaning up the solid gallium by scraping it off with aluminum foil or heating it up, which all failed. We even looked at the paper on removing gallium, but it was of no use. Then, by chance, Dakd Jung brought ultrasonic cleaner from his own research and tried cleaning gallium with it, and it worked! An attempt by chance solved a problem that even an academic paper couldn’t. That was the time we discovered a new possibility.
Q. What motivated you to experiment on materials?
A. Everything that exists in a physical space is material. It is at a stage before becoming an object and has a possibility of becoming anything. Bauhaus provided education on material to produce industrial objects; now it is an era of open sources. Accessing information on materials as well as actually processing it is becoming easier and easier. Wouldn’t it be the time for the artists as well to study new material and search for ways to apply it on their works? The MR Lab members use the word “experiment” by expanding its meaning, not restricting it to “artistic experiment”. We conduct experiments and study without fear on various materials such as electronic ceramic resin, superhydrophobic coating, hydrogel, ultraviolet, printable ink particles, silicon, and fluoridated ketone, which are treated in the general technology area.
Q. What researches are you currently conducting?
A. We are experimenting on new materials almost from the area of nano engineering. Of course, we only treat the ones certified as stable for scientific experiments. The tests are conducted by individual or small teams, and the details on the experiments will be shared on ZER01NE Day.
Q. MR Lab is collaborating with start-up M.O.P. How is the collaboration going on specifically?
A. Some of the MR Lab creators can conduct modelling as well as create 3D printings. Thanks to this, we were provided from M.O.P with 3D printing materials rather than the printing technology along with advice on based on nanochemistry or information on related companies. Generally, the companies treating 3D printing materials have a list of usable materials, which means that there are restrictions in basic materials applicable to 3D printing. Our creators study the materials not in the list. Focusing on this common point, M.O.P and our creators agreed to launch a supported project in the future, which is actually going on right now.
Q. As a ZER01NE creator, from what perspective do you look at the convergence between technology, art, and business?
A. I think the convergence is a natural hybrid situation itself. Maybe that is why the scientific experiments by artists or artistic experiments by scientists are spotlighted, which expand into artistic experiments by entrepreneurs. On the other hand, it is disappointing to see art genres limited to results such as paintings or sculptures. When art is recognized with the premise of being an experimental activity, the convergence between business, technology, and art will be more facilitated.
Q . Last question. How would you define ZER01NE with one word?