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RESEARCH CLASS: Accelerated Life

Accelerated Life
research class by Ben Borden

This research class will encourage visual artists to think of time and aging as it relates to their work. In the field of industrial design and engineering there is a category of testing called Accelerated Life Testing that attempts to simulate the passage of long amounts of time to determine when and how something will break. These tests can range from the technical; controlled UV light exposure and salt mist chambers, to the comical; Rube Goldberg like devices that repeatedly open and close doors and drop bags of sand on chairs. The aim of this class is to apply the logic of Accelerated Life Testing to art making. How might this encourage us to conceptualize beyond the time scale of an average human lifespan? How do we want time to affect our work? Do we want it to remain static, archived for perpetuity, turn to dust or age like fine wine? How might time and aging be harnessed for generative mark making, influencing the form and content of a work. 

Participants are encouraged to bring small art works that they imagine will be interestingly transformed by time and aging to the first class. We will visit the applied engineering lab at the University of Antwerp with these objects and using a climate chamber and a weatherometer we will simulate the passage of 200 years. Then, imagining that we are seeing these works for the first time we will have a critique. With this knowledge of how time will impact you works, you will spend the rest of the class imaging and making works specifically for an exhibition planned 200 years in the future. You are encouraged to come up with their own accelerated life testing processes. At the end of the week we will return to the applied engineering lab and put the works into the time simulators. You will be able to retrieve them the following week.

In between making and experimenting we will learn about the weird and wonderful world of Ikea’s accelerated life testing contraptions (hopefully with a guest), talk about time and think Hilma af Klint style about the future exhibition space for these 200 year old works.  

Ben Borden
Ben Borden (b. 1985 Corpus Christi, Texas) is an artist based in Los Angeles. He uses industrial processes and organic materials to create closed systems of control and preservation reflective of impermanence and faith. Ben teaches in the Media Design Practices MFA program at ArtCenter College of Design in Los Angeles.

>> This research class is part of the RESEARCH WEEK October 2022 and the annual research festival ARTICULATE 2022.