artefact or artifact ('a:tI,faekt) n. 1. Something made or given shape by man, such as a tool or a work of art, esp. an object or archaeological interest. 2. Cytology. a structure seen in tissue after death, fixation, staining, etc., that is not normally present in the living tissue.
[C19: from Latin phrase arte factum from ars skill + facere to make]

The 'Artefact' Project takes as its starting point the fluidity of the artefact and the attempts that have been made to fix meaning through classification and labelling. A 'multimedia' database of objects from the V&A collection will be made, incorporating 3 dimensional information, images, and text taken from information panels, this database can be added to over the duration of the show. This database will be the core of the online engine for the 'Artefact' project. This engine then generates new 3D objects through a process that converges elements from the database within an On-Line multi-user VR environment. For the duration of the show the 'Artefact' project will evolve through a generative breeding of the 'genetic' information contained in the database.Deprived of being able to touch and handle the evolving virtual/impossible 'Artefact' in the real world/museum, individuals would be able to virtually 'touch' and manipulate the 'Artefact' within the On-Line multi-user environment on the Internet. Through this process of manipulation the 'Artefact' would evolve and take on further significance as it is reformed and re-classified through user input. This user input could be collaborative through individuals working together simultaneously manipulating and redefining, or sequential allowing a new form to emerge over a longer period of time. New narratives will evolve around the virtual 'Artefact', new functions will be decided, more virtual 'Artefacts' may be grouped and linked through a consensual process of interpretation. The ambition is to enable a generative process to evolve through the re-interpretation of the objects, where meaning attributed to an 'Artefact' allows new 'Artefacts' to be formed through associative links.

This virtual collection of the V&A would slowly evolve and multiply, becoming more alive than the 'real' collection of 'dead' artefacts located within the existing gallery cabinets. An additional cabinet containing the projected images of the virtual 'Artefact' would enhance the materialisation of the immaterial by denying actual physical contact to the museums visitors. Questions would be raised about the nature of all of the 'Artefacts' located in the museums cabinets, which are real and which are Virtual Artefacts.

Five objects [see process] were selected from the British Galleries 1500-1900 online database as a starting point for the 'Artefact' Project. The generative rule based system used to breed the 3D artefacts also mutates the interpretation panel for each object. the percentage of mutation in the 3D objects corresponds the percentage of mutation within the interpretation panel.

The interpretation panel draws on thee sources for its information:

A: The original interpretation and information panel for each object in the V&A British Galleries 1500-1900 online database.

B: An alternative interpretation panel generated by MODEL.

C: The input from the online viewers.

These are the interpretation panels from categories A and B:

1: ct64453_p.jpg: ADAM AND EVE COLUMN 1600 - 1620: Museum no. W.25-1959
2: ct70847_p.jpg: COVERED BOWL Hallmarked for 1899 - 1900: Museum no. Circ.77-1953
3: ct23506_p.jpg: NEEDLECASE WITH SCISSORS 1660 - 1690: Museum no. T.424-1988
4: ct58925_p.jpg: DECANTER 1865: Museum no. Circ.857-1956
5: ct72468_p.jpg: STEREOSCOPE 1901: Museum no. E.27-2000