Once seen as the ultimate material of the future, plastic in recent decades has come to symbolise increasing environmental pollution and blind consumer excess. Yet emerging technologies, in particular the 3D printer, may once again change the applications and significance of plastic. Available for industrial processing only up to now, the material is becoming accessible to individuals for bottom-up initiatives. While for so long we were just consumers of finished plastic products, we can now become users and possibly even makers of unprocessed plastic, allowing us to manufacture our own products. PLASTIC, Promises of a Home-made Future explores the relation between plastic and the 3D printing market. Plastic is one of the most important raw materials used in 3D printing. This new technology could create a new consumer model, turning plastic from an ecological threat into an ecological promise. But, as the history of plastic had taught us, the future does not always turn out as we hoped it would.
PLASTIC, Promises of a Home-made Future takes the form of a docubition: a combination of documentary and exhibition. In this docubition, visitors follow the history of plastic, with all its highs and lows. The story then zooms in on the technological innovation of 3D printing, an industry still in its infancy. Only time will tell whether new models of consumption will result, or whether the industry will turn out to be an existing capitalist model dressed up in new clothes. Curator Tal Erez: 'It is a battle for our hearts and minds, and our wallets. And we find ourselves at the centre of it. So what are we going to do with plastic?'
Scientists, journalists, industry representatives, makers and designers all have their say in this docubition. On display are unique objects, such as an authentic billiard ball made from the first type of plastic, and a fragment op 'plastiglomerate', a geological deposit containing plastic that was found in early 2014. The docubition leads to an interactive installation, called the Perpetual Plastic Project, where a number of times a day visitors themselves can shred plastic waste, make filament, and use it to print new objects.
Thursday 23 October 2014: Hello PLASTIC.
With lectures by Susan Freinkel, Maurizio Montalti, Perpetual Plastic Project and Tal Erez.
Friday 30 January 2015: Forming Plastic Futures (debate)
Three expert sessions about the possibilities and limitations of 3D printing in terms of sustainability, recycling and new models of consumption.
Saturday 31 January 2015: Official opening
Thursday 12 March 2015: Material Night PLASTIC with Sophie Krier
An evening in which moderator Sophie Krier, in the company of researchers and designers, reflects on the design processes that plastic facilitates or sets in motion. Krier picks up where the docubition ends.
For the docubition of PLASTIC, there will be special LEGO blocks printed based on drawings taken from the archives at Het Nieuwe Instituut.
Curator Tal Erez
PLASTIC is curated by designer and researcher Tal Erez. Erez explores issues of political change, institutional critique, and contemporary forms of resistance. His research methodology encompasses both the production of objects and text: situated between theory and praxis. Tal holds degrees from the Holon Institute of Technology (ISR) and the Design Academy Eindhoven (NL). He teaches design in Hadassah college and in Bezalel academy’s design Masters program in Jerusalem.
PLASTIC: Promises of a Home-Made Future is the third in a series of exhibitions about materials and their economic, cultural and social significance. Wood was the subject last time, and an exhibition about glass is currently under preparation. PLASTIC shows how far-reaching innovation in materials has fired the imagination for a century, yet continues to evoke doom scenarios.