“We don’t want to discard the many benefits of technological innovation and its inherent mentality, the sheer energy and will to create. But progress shouldn’t be the goal itself, nowadays more often it overshoots the mark, we miss the ideology.
A dilemma that questions us most, is the way technology (or humanity) has made it possible to extend our lives almost endlessly. But what is an eternal life good for if we use it only to continue being excessive consumers who strive for more and more products, regardless of the consequences?
Continuing our ongoing strive for progress, one day we might find ourselves turned into the very products we assemble. In fact we are material substance (waste) just like the products we make. As human ashes (worldwide 465.000 litres a day) might be reused by means of 3D printing, we may offer grandpa a second life as a useful rocking chair or even as a vacuum cleaner or a toaster. Would we than become more attached to these products?
For ‘In Progress’ we created 3 still lives made of 3d-printed human ashes that question the value of life and objects. We used the visual language that can be found in 16th and 17th century still life vanitas paintings. Such as fruit, flowers and insects that symbolize the meaninglessness of earthly life, the transcience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death.”
3 still lives;
The weight of a honeycomb; Honeycombs have been used in allegories as an attribute of the personificated golden age, diligence and labour. Here the scales weigh the value of this attribute, while the bee questions the meaning of a single life.
Dung beetle and hand vacuum cleaner; A dung which could be seen as waste by some, is used by dung beetles for either food storage or a fertile ball to submit their eggs in. Thus maintaining and producing life. The vacuum cleaner tells us about dust and waste in a repetitive process.
Birds and toaster; The bird can be found on vases in still life paintings. Here it represents life and death as it’s reborn out of its own ashes. The toaster symbolises this incineration.
“For the project ‘In Progress’ –that challenged designers to rethink the notion of progress– we didn’t want to design a new product, we wanted to talk about products, provoke a dialogue. Our project is a statement that questions uncriticised innovation. We don’t want to discard the many benefits of technological innovation and its inherent mentality, the sheer energy and will to create. But progress shouldn’t be the goal itself, nowadays more often it overshoots the mark, we miss the ideology.
‘Consume or Conserve?’ shows three still lives made of 3d-printed human ashes; In the first instance, the still lives are meant to be a statement, ‘a 3d vanitas painting’, which moves our senses and thoughts, and let us think about our strive for in progress. It questions the value of products and our relationship with them.
It was not our first intention to produce products of human ashes in future, although we’re glad to hear that people seemed to be interested in being reincarnated in such a way.
Obviously they will have their own interpretations and dreams about it.”
Studio Wieki Somers, Schiedam, The Netherlands
Studio Wieki Somers, www.wiekisomers.com