Dear friends, hold your breath. We are about to question the fundamentals here.
First, there is Man.
He is a creative creature, incessantly wondering about the nature of His surroundings, raising question marks on previous knowledge; A political creature, after (or above) all.
Then, there are Cities: Human creations built by putting knowledge into practice, using machines and, of course, concrete.
At this point, I will ask to contemplate the latter: What is concrete? Is it what we see? A heavy, stubbornly still material? What if concrete could fly?
I met Pierre-Clément Nivière, a French object designer (and one of my most brilliant kitchen acquaintances) and we started a long discussion about reaching perfection, getting amused by things and, unavoidably, utopia.
Inspired by the futuristic flying cities of Archigram and with a well-reasoned faith in technology, Pierre started his research based on this optimistically stimulating problematic:
Yesterday we could dream, today we can take action.
Challenging the obvious, Pierre wanted to combine the integral contrast between concrete and light, two crucially different elements. Defying the impossibility of light's nature, he turned it into a stable object, while rendering concrete flexible.
His attempt to use and transform concrete into a delicate and subtle material rang my semantic bells and struck me as a significant theoretical conception, applicable on multiple fields of human action requiring improvement; a change of approach.
Talking about contemporariness, we couldn't overlook today's favorite material, which is none other than PVC.
New discoveries, materials and products penetrate the lives of modern individuals in a holistic way (in an Ulrich-Beck-manner-of-speaking), conquering the present, almost obtaining the status of panacea.
We both admitted our fondness for plastic, that is true. Yet its limits were undefined, as its excessive use has brought us close to the environmental point the Goscinny's Gulls were afraid of: that the sky could fall on our heads.
This is what Pierre's installation "The Graduation Trophy", participating in the exhibition "PLASTIC: Promises of a Home-made Future" held in Het Nieuwe Instituut in 2015, brought into discussion: Awareness.
Awareness not only about the vast field of possibilities technology can offer but mainly about the procedure required to reach them. Proposing a re-engagement of Man with the machine, he underlines the significance of the effort and he suggests the discovery of rational purpose on production, as well as consumption, as an alternative path to sustainability.
"This is a machine which asks human power to empower a 3D printer. It is an answer for the future, the machines' consumption, and the meaning of our needs".
Though Pierre's installations reflect a strong resistance to a multilevel collapsing environment, this man is a sincere pacifist.
Denying the role of a soldier, he connects art to the process of creating or empowering existing relationships, like the one we have with ourselves, machines or even materials, relationships that are not going to collapse.
Unity, he believes, is our great mechanism of defense.