A relatively new technology allows the carbon for the ash after we are cremated (after we are dead) to be turned into a synthetic diamond. I was asked to participate in a project run by DESIS lab in Hong Kong to pick up the process where ideas were needed for what to do with the diamonds. Their research looks to break taboos surrounding dying and death. Up to this point their research has focussed on interviews, workshops and now this exhibition at K11 gallery.
The project started for me being given 3 stories which are different scenarios about family circumstance, death and wishes. Whilst these scenarios were very specific, I tried to find a commonality in each (apart from the death part). I really liked this way of working.
I responded with three objects which ‘support’ the diamond. My starting point was that I wanted to move away from the fact that for thousands of years people have worn jewels as decoration. I thought that jewellery was too obvious and an arbitrary default answer. DESIS research also suggested that whilst people liked the idea of being made into a diamond after death (as it’s such a permanent and beautiful thing) they also said they might not want to touch the diamond of a dead loved one, but they would like to look at it.
Object 1. The light. This form takes the shape of a candle which emits one candela of light, which refracts through the diamond filling the room with a low light which which is just enough to see and contemplate, but not enough to work by or do any other activity.
Object 2. The clock. This object is a death day clock which counts forwards in days, months and years from the moment of death. This is to aid the bereavement process to a point where exact time no longer matters and the cube serves merely as a display for the diamond.
Object 3. The spirit. This object holds 3 diamonds as the deceased wanted each of his sisters to have one diamond. The deceased was born in the year of the rabbit and this figurative container holds his diamonds within.
One of the highlights of the project was the trip to Mr Mok’s social housing flat to do the photo shoot. He is a remarkable man and has live in the tiny 25m2 flat for over 40 years, and has helped DESIS with many projects, so a big thank you to him.
I made the first pair of butterfly shoes a few years ago to repair my running shoes…..do you remember that film?If not you can watch it here, then I did some more shoes for New Balance and they were featured in some Fashion Magazines. Then I got asked by Francis Sultana to make customise a kids chair for the NSPCC, you can see that here. Then more recently I have been working on this chair. I ordered 1000 embroidered Butterflies from a manufacturer in China, it was the first time that I have used Alibaba, and I was a bit nervous of sending money to an unknown supplier, but I have to say the whole transaction went really well and I was very pleased with the product. I did some research about the migration and behaviour of the Monarch butterfly and imagined what they would look like if instead of gathering on a tree in a Mexican forest, they clustered on a wooden chair….I guess it’s all the same to a Butterfly. And I guess this is the result.
I made this time lapse of the Minty Grid Chair that was initially made with 1500 participants bringing their own string, rope and ribbons (and other stuff) to ‘upholster’ the metal chair in a new way. I got the chair powder coated so all the stuff had to be taken off, and I set about doing the new film.
I made some mistakes, which I’d like to let you know about. #1 The stills for the time-lapse were not on widescreen format so that they didn’t work with the motion footage. NB make sure when you do your time-lapse if the film has both types of content that they are in the same aspect ratio. #2 The first one looked bad for some reason and it took 7 hours to do. #3 I set the camera to automatic and it really messed around with the light setting so that the majority of the images were massively dark and over exposed. Another wasted day. Although the final result isn’t perfect, with the rotation segment being undersxposed. I kind of got away with it and I definitely couldn’t face another 6.30am start.
Here are some of the backgrounds that I experimented with:
Here’s the remote shutter release that I got to work with my Canon D60
I used this method to make the rotation smooth. 1 a nail glued to the chair frame, this located in the small hole drilled in the table surface (see last image). 2. I used a 60 point ‘clock face’ drawn in pencil onto the surface so that the rotation at 15 frames per second would be smooth but also a fast enough spin.
Again, thanks for all the participants who made making this chair possible.
Today, I bought a Hula Hoop. I was looking for something else but it caught my eye. It was £2. The first thing I noticed was that it is OVAL in section and that it is made from one piece of wood. I guess it is steamed beech. It was also made in the former GDR/DDR which is exciting as I’m picturing lots of very earnest blond girls in a large formation having lots of fun hula hooping in the fresh East Getman outdoors ca. 1961
I made this short clip following on from the still version I shot a year ago. I wanted to show you the things I look at when I am at home and in my studio. Scale is important to designers…if you are an architect you might think about huge scale like a city, whereas a jewellery designer might think about a tiny area like an earlobe. So, I suppose this film lets you know at what scale I see the world as default.