Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Art & Design: Studio Wieki Somers' Art from Human Ashes

Dutch duo Wieki Somers and Dylan van den Berg create unusal and innovative art & design pieces together, under the name Studio Wieki Somers. In addition to creating comissioned works for international companies and galleries, their items have also been featured in a variety of museums around the globe, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Perhaps you're wondering why I'm writing about their work here, especially after looking at the photographs. However, if you look a little closer, you'll notice the name plaques with birth and death dates inscribed on them. The reason for this is that these unusual works, made using a 3D printing process, are actually made of human ashes!

Started in 2010, Studio Wieki Somers' 'Consume or Conserve?' project uses the cremated remains of a person (with their family's permission) and transforms them into a three dimensional art creation. Whilst this may seem quite macabre, or something made merely for shock value on the surface, Somers and Van den Berg do actually have a more meaningful point to make about the trappings and excessive waste of constant consumerism, needless technology and the modern mentality that everything is disposable.

On their website, the pair say of the project:
"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 questionsa 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 toaster. Would we then become more attached to these products?"
To read more about the project, including the meaning of the symbolism used in each still life, or to see more of the Studio's work, visit their website:

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