Smashing Antiquities

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Smashing Antiquities

Compression of the classical

by Stephen Drew, AIR staff

What healthy adult has not wanted to smash something for the sake of science? Certainly not ProfessorJack Dollhausen of Washington State University, Pullman and Professor Clayton Bailey, of California State University - Hayward. That is, they have not not wanted to. The two have embarked on a most audacious investigation -- obtaining and smashing rare ancient pottery. Professor Dollhausen's web site explains:

Nine hundred or more pottery enthusiasts who attended the demonstration of "Compression Strength Testing of Classical Ceramics" witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle. More than $1,000,000 dollars worth of historical ceramic treasures were thoroughly tested for compression strength. A machine was built especially for this purpose by Jack Dollhausen, Professor at Washington State University, Pullman. The result of a collaboration between Dollhausen, and Professor Clayton Bailey, of California State University - Hayward, this demonstration revealed the relationship between compression strength and formal esthetics.

This was precision smashing, for the purpose of measuring and thus presumably gaining some kind of knowledge or at least information. The collaborators used a custom-built instrument which they call an Aesthetron.

We would be interested in hearing about any other such audacious and innovative compression initiative performed with the same goal in mind: destroying art in order to better understand it.

(Thanks to investigator Rachel Zimmerman for bringing this to our attention.)

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