Throughout this year I have used David Neat’s book Model-Making: Materials and Methods and his blog on the subject for hints and tips on materials and their properties for the physical model build that I have done. I was interested to find out his opinions on the cost implications of building miniatures and the role of the found object in his work:
Would you say that the happy mistakes and coincidences that you get when you are working with physical materials are what makes a model ultimately have a higher level of realism over a digital model?
I know what happens when I work with physical materials, but I can only imagine or guess re the process of creating those same things in digital form, since I haven’t worked enough in that way to compare the processes themselves. But yes, materials have a will of their own, and can either force or inspire the unplanned .. and every time that happens it forces one to re-evaluate the look (whether stylistic or realistic) that one was initially trying to achieve, to see whether the ‘happy mistake or coincidence’ is either in line with that aim, an improvement .. or a diversion from it. So it’s the ‘unplanned’ that generates the questioning .. and it’s the questioning, and careful answering! .. that leads to a possibly ‘higher level’ whether that is realism, stylization or abstraction .. whatever the goal! I suppose, in short, if the digital method produces less of the unexpected and therefore less need for questioning then it may not result in a higher quality of much at all!
But I think it’s also fairer to say that the two forms produce a different form of realism rather than one being necessarily higher or lower, or better or worse. That’s a matter of personal preference and taste. Some might argue that it’s the visible mistakes (the ‘handprint of the maker’ the spots of glue) that give a real model it’s tangibility. We know, and we’re reminded, that it exists in realspace .. and that somehow makes the experience more real. But others might argue that it’s exactly those things i.e. fingerprints of the maker, spots of glue .. that destroy the illusion!