Material--first taxonomies

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On the arrangement/array and structuring of material and materiality in an artistic context
Creating a system where to find material, organizing and listing differences of material without choosing a setting of single "classifications"

comment 1: not to be understood as complete lists, more of a practical approach from different angles.
comment 2: these classifications are not exclusive to each other and can be linked or crosslinked.
comment 3: classifications as groups of materials, contextualized rather than singled out or hierarchized
comment 4: classifications as titles and orientations, to be continued...
comment 5: groupings as a meshwork of nodes of contact

Different approaches to classifications
practical artistic production related / industrial functional semantic sensual contextualized processual ontological contextualized historical spiritual embodied aesthetic experimental ...

Material families

classified according to raw material and resources, production related / industrial

paper wood metal synthetics rubber stone/minerals composites organic smart glass polymers ceramics gas foam ...

Material features

classified according to properties and functionalities

reacting conductive reusable / recyclable moldable / shapeable adhesive / resolvent resilient
digital immaterial programmeable oriented on other sensory reception phenomenological ...

Material contextualisation

classified based on a multidisciplinary approach, distinctions made by highlighting single disciplines (exMedia)

informatics sound design architecture 3D / animation / VR / AR film/ games theory bio-art human-animal studies ...

Fictional taxonomy, example one: Borges

Jorge Luis Borges "Emporio celestial de conocimientos benévolos",
approx. 1942, a fictitious taxonomy of animals, a "celestial emporium of benevolent knowledge":
(a) belonging to the Emperor
(b) embalmed
(c) trained
(d) piglets
(e) sirens
(f) fabulous
(g) stray dogs
(h) included in this classification
(i) trembling like crazy
(j) innumerables
(k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush
(l) et cetera
(m) just broke the vase
(n) from a distance look like flies

see also https://www.crockford.com/wilkins.html

Material Complexity Approach

-work in progress-

Element Chemisches Grundelement
Verarbeitungsgrad wie viele Verarbeitungs- und Kombinationsschritte hat das Material hinter sich? Roh vs. Designtes/gestaltetes Material
Anwendungorientierte Spezifizierung Wie weit ist Funktion und Anwendung des Materials spezifiziert? (Beispiel: Halbzeug: Fenster, Rohre, Schrauben)
Kombinationsgrad Aus wie vielen Materialien ist das Material zusammengesetzt (Beispiel: Kabel)
Reaktivität Wie leicht und wie reagiert das Material auf externe Stimuli?
Interface Abhängigkeit braucht das Material einen Träger, um in Erscheinung zu treten? (z.B. Code)
Lebendigkeitsgrad Organismus (konstant interargierendes, lebendiges Material; Biomaterialien)

Traditional Material Classifications

Material Science Classifications

Core understanding of the basic internal structure of materials. Hierachical

why one material is differentiated from another

1. Level bonding forces between individual atoms
2. Level the way these bonding forces produce different types of aggregation patterns between atoms to form various molecular and crystalline solid structures
3. Level These larger aggre­gation patterns can further be differentiated by how their molecular structures branch or link or, in crystalline solids, by different types of unit cell and related spatial lattice structures such as face-centered or body-centere.
4. Level broadly descriptive categories such as ceramics, metals or polymers

Engineering Classifications

Essentially descriptive but focuses on the performance char­acteristics of materials. Distinguish between the funda­mental problem-solving characteristics. Mapping (mix and match properties and attributes).

how a material performs

STATE solid, liquid, gas
STRUCTURE amorphous, crystalline
ORIGIN Natural, synthelic
COMPOSITION organic, inorganic, alloy
PROCESSING cast, hardened, rolled
PROPERTY emissivity, conductivity
ENVIRONMENT corrosive, underwater
APPLICATION adhesive, painl, fuel

Architectural Classifications

Architectural building codes and standards, for example, often supersede performance criterla in an attempt to simplifythe selection process and remove liability for performance failures. For many uses codes and standards often explicitly or implicitly identify acceptable materials, leaving the architect only to select between brands. As a result, architectural classifications tend to be more nominative - simply listing materials and uses in accordance with standard building requirements.

what a material is and where it is used

Practical templates for communication between architects,contractors, fabricators and suppliers. After the preliminary design of a building is completed and approved, architects prepare construction documents that serve as the 'instructions' for the construction of the building. A textual documentdefines each building element on the design drawings and specifies the material or component. This document, rather than providing guidelines, instead serves as a binding contract that construction professionals and contractors must follow.

Examples from The CSI Master Format:

Division 03 Concrete
Division 04 Mansory
Division 05 Metals
Division 06 Wood, Plastics, and Composites
Division 07 Thermal and Moisture Protection
Division 08 Openings
Division 09 Finishes
Division 12 Furnishings
Division 20 Mechanical Support
Division 21 Fire Suppression
Division 23 Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning
Division 26 Electrical
Division 31 Earthwork
Division 40 Process Interconnections
Division 41 Material Processing and Handling Equipment
Division 44 Pollution Control Equipment

Alternative Material Classifications

In the design fields, a host of different loose categorizations are used, many of which are particular (and perhaps idiosyncratic) to individual fields. Many are quite qualitative and readily mix traditional approaches. ln many design fields the material is chosen long before performance criteria are defined and as such the process tends to be artifact-driven.

Material ConneXion
The materials are organized similarly to the broad composition categories that sit at the top of the material science classification system, but are without the inductive lower layers that serve to explain thematerial.

The eight broad categories:

polymers glass ceramics carbon-based cement-based metals natural materials natural material derivatives

Smart Material Classifications

Traditional engineering approach the material is understood as an array of physical behaviors, as a singular static thing, an artifact. Considering smart materials as fixed artifacts is unsatisfactory as this neglects their contingency on their environment (their properties respond to and vary with external stimuli).

multi-layered classification

one layer characterizing thematerial according to its physical behavior (what it does)

other layer characterizing the material according to ist phenomenological behavior (the results of the physicalbehavior).

Also must address questions about how smart materials relate to the world of intelligent devices and environments.

Characteristics of smart materials and systems

Immediacy respond in real time
Transiency respond to more than one environmental state
Self-actuation intelligence is internal to rather than external to the 'material'.
Selectivity response is discrete and predictable
Directness response is local to the 'activating' event

Smart Material Properties

chemical mechanical electrical magnetic thermal

lnput energy

electrical chemical thermal mechanical radiative

smart material changes are reversible: when the energy input is removed, the material reverts back to its original properties.

Typ 1 Smart Material

Undergo changes in one or more of their propertiesin direct response to a change in the external Stimuli associated with the environment surrounding the material. Changes are direct and reversible.

siehe Bilder hier: https://wolke.khm.de/index.php/apps/files/?dir=/materiathek/Bilder%20Materialklassifikation%20Smart%20Materials&fileid=949588


an input of thermal energy (heat) to the material alters its molecular structure. The new molecular structure has a different spectral reflectivity than does the original structure; as a result, the material's 'color' - its reflected radiation in the visible range of the electro­magnetic spectrum - changes.


the application of a magnetic field (or for electrorheological - an electrical field) causes a change in micro-structural orientation, resulting in a change in viscosity of the fluid.


an input of thermal energy (or radiation for a phototropic, electricity for electrotropic and so on) to the material alters its micro-structure through a phase change. In a different phase, most materials demonstrate different properties, including conductivity, transmissivity, volu­metric expansion, and solubility.

Shape Memory

an input of thermal energy (which can also be produced through resistance to an electrical current) alters the microstructure through a crystalline phase change. This change enables multiple shapes in relationship to the environmental stimulus.

Typ 2 Smart Material

Transform energy from one form to an output energy in another form. Changes are direct and reversible.

siehe Bilder hier: https://wolke.khm.de/index.php/apps/files/?dir=/materiathek/Bilder%20Materialklassifikation%20Smart%20Materials&fileid=949588

The use of the term 'material' here can be slightly misleading.Many of the 'materials' in this class are actually made up of several more basic materials that are constituted in a way to provide a particular type of function. A thermoelectric, for example, actually consists of multiple layers of different Materials. The resulting assembly is perhaps better described as a simple device. The term 'material', however, has still come to be associated with these devices - largely because of the way they are conceptually thought about and used. Application-oriented thinking thus drives use of the term 'material' here.


an input of radiation energy from the ultraviolet spectrum (or electrical energy for an electro­luminescent, chemical reaction for a chemoluminescent) is converted to an output of radiation energy in the visible spectrum.


an input of radiation energy from the visible spectrum produces an electricalenergy (the term voltaic refers more to the material which must be able to provide the voltage potential to sustain the current).


an input of electrical current creates a temperature differential on opposite sides of the material. This temperature differential produces a heat engine, essentially a heat pump, allowing thermal energy to be transferred from one junction to the other.


elastic energy (strain) produces an electricity. Mostly, Inputs can be switched and an applied electric energy will produce a deformation (strain).


Shape changes under the application of an electric field.