Björk’s Rottlace mask by Neri Oxman
Rottlace is a family of masks designed for Icelandic singer-songwriter Björk, created by Neri Oxman and her team The Mediated Matter Group, in collaboration with Stratasys. Inspired by Björk’s most recent album – Vulnicura – the Mediated Matter Group explored themes associated with self-healing and expressing ‘the face without a skin.’ The series originates with a mask that emulates Björk’s facial structure and concludes with a mask that reveals a new identity, independent of its origin. What originates as a form of portraiture culminates in reincarnation.
The designs are informed by the geometrical and material logics that underlie the human musculoskeletal system; specifically, the complex structure of muscles, connective tissues, tendons, and ligaments that modulate the human voice. This continuous weave of dense collagen fibers form functional ‘typologies’ of connections: muscle-to-bone, bone-to-bone, and muscle-to-muscle.
As in the human body, where continuous, collagenous elements alter their chemical and mechanical properties as a function of the tension they exert or endure, each mask is designed as a synthetic ‘whole without parts.’ The masks incorporate tunable physical properties recapitulating, augmenting, or controlling the facial form and movement behind them.
One of the masks from the series was selected for Björk’s stage performance at the Tokyo Miraikan Museum, and 3D printed by Stratasys using multi-material 3D printing. This process enables the production of elaborate combinations of graded properties distributed over geometrically complex structures within a single object. The project implements Stratasys’ Connex3 technology using three materials with pre-set mechanical combinations varying in rigidity, opacity, and color, as a function of geometrical, structural, and physiological constraints.
Images courtesy of Santiago Felipe, The Mediated Matter Group