Abrasive blasting, better know as sand blasting, is an industrial technique in which blasting material (often called the media) is propelled by pressurised air onto a surface. Depending on the media, the pressure and the airflow, the surface can be gently scraped, cleaned or destroyed.

This projection of media nearly always takes place in confined, well vented areas to prevent the machine operator from working in dusty and unhealthy conditions. Cabins, hermetically closed and suctioned to prevent dust from spreading and blurring vision.

When operating the machine, the pressure sets in and projects onto the target. It scrapes away the surface, slowly but effectively. The nozzle focusses the media into a fine and conic blast. The affected material decays, it disappears layer after layer. In a way, it simulates the natural erosion. The washing of the seas, the raging of the sand in the desert.

The friction of the media erases the canvas, transforms it into sand, into dust. It sets again onto the bottom of the cabin, leaving a moon-like landscape. Inside the protective helmet, the operator hears only the soothing hiss of the fresh-airflow entering the mask. Seeing through square glass eye-screen is the only way to control what is happening. That and the constant recoil of the hose.

The room is continuously bombarded by ricocheting particles, everything is exposed. Only the most durable materials can resist, and even then just for a while. The walls are matt, powdery. Nothing remains shiny of polished.

POWDER AND SAND is a research theme, in which the possibilities of sand blasting are investigated. The effects of abrasion on natural materials such as granite or wood are unpredictable and are prone to many factors. Material tests and equipment tests are necessary to fully understand the potential of the technique as way to create and destroy.

The exhibition CABINE DE PROJECTION offers an overview of this research, exemplifying the blast chamber as a projection room, as an atelier and as a isolated working area.

Lodewijk Heylen, September 2014


Webdesign by Sarah MadisonAntoine Louis