logo mischer'traxler

cuprum / positve-negative
2014 | process, installation & series of objects |
commissioned by Kunstgewerbemuseum Schloss Pillnitz
many objects for the positive/negative exhibition | left copper pieces | right copper plated stainless steel
view of the museum set-up
view of the museum set-up
inspiration for the project | right side: an original piece of embroidery (17th century) | left side: the velvet board used in former times for presentation
descriptive boards of the processes | natural sunlight - museum pieces | electroplating for the cuprum project | graphics: Maria Bauhofer
example of graphical exchange
different stages | new copper and stainless steel mesh | taped and folded | after the process
finished pair
detail of planned dissolved copper resulting in pattern and folding lines
finished chess set
details of some chess figures made out of steel-mesh and copper plated
all pieces of the chess set
chess figures in the electroplating tank

Five Design studios were invited to develop a project for the Kunstgewerbemuseum, based on pieces from their collection found in the archive – mischer'traxler was one of them.
After a tour through the museum's storage, there was a certain fascination for some old velvet presentation-boards that were once used to show fabric samples. Used for many years (some of them nearly 100 years), these boards show the exact shadows of the fabric pieces or laces which in the past were presented on them. Through time the velvet boards became nearly a copy of the original in an abstract way. This dependency and connection of two elements, the play between positive and negative, was translated into the project Cuprum.

Through the slow process of electroplating, a copper-element and a piece of stainless steel physically transform, become related to each other and form new patterns and shapes. Through the process both materials become dependent on each other. They need each other for the transformation of the material. The two metal pieces are immersed together in a copper sulphate solution. Partly covered with foil to control the flow of material, a low electric current is applied to both metals and due to electrodeposition, the copper gives away its material and copper-plates the steel. The rate at which the copper dissolves is equal to the rate at which the steel or the steel-mesh is plated, thus illustrating how the one material is supporting the other.

Left in the sulphate bath for some time both materials are enriched in patterns, formability or, in the case of the mesh, stability. Whilst the copper can be decorated with patterns or receives constructed folding lines, the stainless steel-mesh slowly grows together, becomes solid, well connected and even paper clips become permanently attached.

After several days of electroplating, the two parts are taken out of the bath, get cleaned and polished and form pairs. The derivation series made for the exhibition included several objects: pairs of graphical metal sheets, pairs of folded sheets and a chess game. The chess game was chosen as a final outcome since it plays as well on action/reaction, dependency and exchange.

project assistant: Maria Bauhofer

material: copper, copper sheets, stainless steel, paperclips
dimension: various

Kunstgewerbemuseum Schloss Pillnitz