Sustainability narrowly means to make use of natural, renewable resources that human is able
to continue to depend on their yield in the long run. I had believed that individuals would
investigate a new solution to the environmental issue that people face at the moment. However, the seemingly effective design or technology produces a serious of new problems on human ecosystem, and the mass consumption simultaneously marches on. In Guoyong Wu’s photography, No Place to Place2, documented China’s shared bike graveyards in 20 cities, reflecting massive quantities of broken and abandoned city bikes overwhelm in the edge of urban and generate new waste. Our manifesto group, therefore, is revealing the polemical issues behind sustainable development of human being through our art practice.
The abandoned everyday objects around us have various possibilities when artists have interaction with them, which simultaneously avoids the production of new waste. I started my collection of waste objects, examining different materials since I associated with a documentary film of Agnès Varda, The Gleaner and I3, tracking a series of gleaners and built on a “resistance to consumerism” point. The CCTV camera documented what action I enacted in my finite flat, and I created a video, ‘Waste in My Room’. After experimentations with multiple objects and methods, my photography, ‘Be Buried’ portrayed my experience living in waste hoarding as a human. Buried my body in the waste articulated the potential problems behind consumption. It is ironic I stored items and produced new “garbage” due to my daily necessities every day. Is it possible to step outside of a consumption society?
The “sustainable” in the concept of sustainable development, and the “development” are two
paradoxical terms — “development” means a new stage in a changing situation, which is
inherently not sustainable.4 Even though it is challenging to get rid of consumption entirely, I
hopefully attempted to engage people in the negative impact of consumption through my
work, ‘A Show of Waste in My Flat’. The viewer could be immersive in my waste hoarding,
undergoing every objects installed in this space. For example, the colourful shopping bags
were worn on my body; I presented the plastic bags neatly all over the wall; the water bottles
were strung singly as the decoration. I was interested in some large-scale installations made
by Christoph Büchel , who immersed audiences in building-based installation with massive objects. This interactive method would elicit reflection on consumption from who looked at my work.
A series of art experimentation subverts my understanding of what role everyday objects play in contemporary art practice. In the meantime, I have an awareness of sustainability and consumption carrying through not only art and design practice but also all of human being.
Agnès Varda, The Gleaner and I, documentary film, 2000 France.
Christoph Büchel, born in 1966 in Basel and best known for his conceptual projects and large-scale installations Dolan, P. 2002. The Sustainability of “Sustainable Consumption.” Journal of Macromarketing, 22(2), 170–181. https://doi.org/10.1177/0276146702238220
Guoyong Wu’s, ‘No Place to Place’, Photography Series, 2015 China.
McDonagh, P. 1998. Towards a theory of sustainable communication in risk society: Relating issues of sustainability to marking communications. Journal of Marketing Management 14:591-622.
“What is sustainability”. http://www.globalfootprints.org. Retrieved 2 May 2018.