Lucy Hardcastle is mid-way through her masters in Experience Design at the Royal College of Art, but still somehow found time to complete a major collaboration with Chanel and i-D. The latest in its ongoing collaborative series of digital projects called The Fifth Sense, Lucy’s contribution Intangible Matter is an entrancing interactive online experience that visualises senses. Soundtracked by producer Fatima Al Qadiri and built by Stinkdigital, it’s one of the most genuinely immersive digital projects we’ve seen recently.
“I think the emergence of this kind of work is really exciting as a new way to communicate and experience ideas,” Lucy says. “In the same way that VR pieces are most successful as empathy machines, WebGL is a really interesting way to tell a story or in this case create something that’s physically impossible in the real world.”
The artist works across digital and physical media, with an underlying focus on “reconnecting people with their senses,” she says, and has already established a strong reputation for her sculptures, real and rendered. “I like exploring the line between physical and virtual,” Lucy says. “I’m all about getting people to focus on their sense of touch through my work. I love when people either want to touch work through the screen, or can’t tell if something is real or not.”
Her BA project Glow gained her acclaim, and was one of her first experiments using Cinema 4D, where she explored “disconnection of reality and loss of tactility in digital culture,” she explains. This resulted in ethereal works that she says depict “the purity and escapism I felt during periods of meditation and solitude”.
For her project Pillow + Ball her digital objects were realised in physical form: “plump” glass sculptures indented with different coloured balls. These were shown at the Chelsea College of Arts Alumni show during LDF 2015. Following this, Lucy was commissioned by Frame magazine for its Milan 2016 exhibition What’s the Matter. She created Phygital Objects, a series of works that continued her Pillow + Ball series, for show examining the theme of “how digital informs the physical and vice versa within design” – a common talking point across culture at the moment.
“Right now I’m interested in the degradation of experience and memory through the relationships we have with our devices. I really want to question the idea of information versus knowledge in terms of how we consume media, and communicated that through physical materiality, and textural information.”