Excitable Materials: Co-creating new forms of engagement with magneto-rheological elastomers across the arts and sciences

Research Team
Dr. Alice Jarry
Dr. Ramin Sedaghati
Prof. Michael Montanaro
Navid Navab
Brice Ammar-Khodja
Audrey Coulombe
Alireza Moezi
Dr. Hossein Vatandoost
Natalia Balska
Dr. Yiwen Chen

Concordia Team Accelerator
Concordia Team Start-Up
Hand with four strong magnets picks up a dark brown bio-MRE material.
Four strong magnets are attached to a piece of bio-MRE mebrane.
Circular cut out of a piece of bio-MRE membrane.

Bio-MRE membranes. Photo: Brice Ammar-Khodja
At the intersection of design, digital arts and material sciences, this pilot study develops new synergies between the Faculty of Fine Arts (Topological Media Lab) and the Gina Cody School of Engineering (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering).  

The team explores novel forms of engagement with magneto- rheological elastomer (MRE).  MREs are multi-functional materials with manifold characteristics that can adaptively be changed. 

‘Excitability’, defined as the capacity of matter to affect and be affected by other bodies, is a qualitative notion that the team borrows from philosophical biology and social sciences to examine the behavioural and experiential potential

of new MRE materials, and how they may be designed to acquire the capacity to sense, adapt, and to interact with the environment. We investigate these excitable materials via a hybrid art-science lense to examine concerns related at once to the built environment, and the experiential dimension of our relationship to matter. 

The project mobilizes interdisciplinary partners towards bypassing the design-thinking separations between structure, sensing technologies, kinetic events, and the methods leading to design of responsive materials. This will lead to the synthesis of new forms of this material to enrich both the practice of and the discourse on  active materials and art-science methodologies.
Bio-MRE membrane being stretched by a four small magnets held by a hand.Two magnets in two separate hands horizontally stretch a perforated piece of bio-MRE membrane.

Critical Practices in
Materials and Materiality