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"utopic society" Tag


Community to change the system


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Dave Hakkens creates machines to recycle plastic. The concept Precious Plastic is that everywhere, everybody can build themselves these machines and recycle their plastics. For me, the most interesting point in this concept is the community around it. He says

“To start up an idea is a powerful tool to use these days. A designer is able to bring people together by just sharing an idea or a potential solution.”

 

Dave Hakkens and his projects are accessible in two points.

Most of his design projects are often provides with open-source instruction videos and blueprints, so it is presenting as a do it yourself project. You can inform yourself, make your own machine or your design object, share on social network, and use it. Make and use these projects is to be active to change the system, and be a designer as well.

Furthermore, he is very active on social networks. On Youtube (with 122 000 followers), he often published videos to clearly explain his projects, how to make it etc. But also he has a certain way of life that you can clearly see in his videos called Story Hopper. Some links: here and

here.

If I had the opportunity to talk to Dave, I will ask him if he thinks that in addition to this solution to reduce plastics wastes we also must have to adopt a minimalist and zero waste attitude. And the answer is manifestly yes. These videos fit perfectly with the sharing of opinions and go further in the ideas that he wants to give. He offers more than just designer content while playing with the border of social network influencers.

Also on his website, you can find the forum where you can talk with people around the world. It’s nice to see all these people who said « I want to recycle plastics but I don’t know where to start » Finally I understood that in this big community, some other little communities are created to make projects easier. On the topic, someone answer: « try to find people, and build an association or something with many people to reduce costs!»

 

bojimansV3 Exhibition during the Dutch Design Week 

 

I am wondering how this concept can grow and evolve in the rest of the world. Are social media enough to share his ideas? The definition of the word community by the Oxford dictionary is: “the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common“. Dave Hakkens and his projects are accessible for those who know him and who share the same interests. Plastic machines were at first introduced in a museum as an exhibition. So a certain public is interested to see it and in this kind of place, it doesn’t have the same purpose. It is difficult to apply something that you just saw in a museum. You can maybe just except to have a discussion but not really a revolution. What effect would he have if he presents his project in a hardware store? 

I knew Dave Hakkens thanks to my sculpture class at the Rietveld Academie. Indeed, some students were able to create one of the plastic machine, the injection machine. I spoke with one of these students and she gave me an interesting reflection: « He says that everyone can build those machines, it works for us because we are in art school, so we have all the materials needed and we always can find a way to be creative with the plastic machine, but not sure it’s the same in poorer countries, because it has a cost and maybe they did not hear about the Precious Plastic project»

 

PLASTIC MACHINEInjection machine in the Rietveld

 

Dave Hakkens went in 2015 to Ganah for research. Also just a few weeks ago, he shipped a big container to the Maldives, to clean ocean. It is important because “the risk” of this way of building plastic machines is to build them for a personal use or very restrained, as the weekend handyman in his garage. But create this container, place of many workshops to recycle plastics can expand the utilization. Indeed, it can not be an activity in its own right, but it should really be part of our way of life and as we can not spend our time recycling plastic, we may wonder if this community of active people is enough? What about the big industries? In fact, there is a start-up called The Plastik Bank which collaborates with the big industries. Plastic waste that invades the poorer regions of the world is collected by local people and then sold to companies that recycle it. But finally, Dave Hakkens gives the opportunity to communities to create something with plastic, be autonomous in the research and then win money (if they decide to). It is really like build something new, maybe a new society.

 

To say goodbye: very interesting article on other people who tried to find solutions for plastic wastes. 

The island of Utopia


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A page of the 3rd publication from the first english version of Utopia, made in 1597 by Raphe Robinson

A page of the 3rd publication from the first english version of Utopia, made in 1597 by Raphe Robinson

 

The book Utopia was published in 1516 by Thomas More. The word itself means “nowhere”, from the ancient Greek language. As it is said, it was written to give an example of a better society rather than the one of  Europe in the sixteenth century could be like.

As I started reading it there was just one question that kept arousing into my mind: how could the Utopians be so willing to obey the rules? Was More making use of his famous black sense of humor when he designed them?

The Utopians are a group of devoted, placid people; they all dress with the same garments and eat in big cantines. Their sense of community is greatly strong. They agree with all the rules. But that sounds so atypical. More, as many other utopians have done, created a little society where human feelings as fear, hate, jealousy and rage almost didn’t exist.

In fact, many utopic authors created a world in which these feelings didn’t exist either. Like the dystopian work of Aldous Huxley, “A Brave New World”, in which humans take pills to be constantly happy. Most utopias are made to terminate all bad feelings. But why not learn to control them and coexist with them? The deeper the pain, the deeper the joy. A world without these feelings would be a passive world. And in a passive world, there’s little space for big strokes of imagination and self-thinking. How boring would that be…
 

An example of how the island of Utopia could have looked like Isola_di_Utopia_Moro
An example of how the island of Utopia could have looked ~ how it was illustrated in the first edition

 
That lead me to think that most utopias are dangerous. As they represent the most ideally perfect aspects of society/mankind, and perfection is a subjective concept, they are very susceptible to not to fit the personal needs of every human being. So they can easily set apart any person who doesn’t correspond the same ideal, and put her in a cage.

Hitler almost realized his own utopia, and drove many people to serve him in this savagery. Maybe the others could sympathize with him because they saw, too, the heaven in Hitler’s mind. However after the discovery of the Holocaust, utopias could never be the same.

I’m not sure if I could, as many people do, relate that much Thomas More to the humanists of the 15th century. They put for the first time men before God, seeked the ability of the human being to think by itself and break with traditions, and supported more the science rather than the superstition. Thomas More was a deeply religious person, and he even stated being God’s servant when he was executed. However, his book Utopia pursues the finest achievement of a human community in what regards society organization, behaviour and education. So to have gone gone so deep into the matter, shouldn’t More have had a real passion for humanism?

More’s book is not easy to read. Used as we are, “free” educated thinkers from the 21rst century, to judge and compare everything with our current times, I think it’s difficult to put yourself into the mindset of the 15th century. I believe it’s a truly visionary book to be written back in that time, when religion had a considerable place in the european population, taking big imporance in every act.
 
atenas Renaissance artists from the 15th century seeked, too, to find perfection and utopy in the human body

Renaissance artists from the 15th century seeked, too, to find perfection and utopy in the human body

And exactly 440 years after Utopia was published, Constant Nieuwenhuys started working in New Babylon. His structures were motivated by the devastated cities he saw after World War II; he started thinking about how architecture influences daily life, and how it creates a specific environment depending on its shape and interior organization. When I thought about Constant and More together, I couldn’t imagine such differents idealists. But as soon as I started going deeper into his ideals, and tried to understand them, I could see some resemblances. On one hand, I think they were united by the fact that they both had a fascination for anthropology. Constant and More put a great effort into imagining, each one their own way, ways to enhance culture and society. What would have happened if we combined the community of More with Constant’s architecture? Perhaps it would have been a total failure, as it is like combining two opposite worlds that scream for way divergent paragons of life. Constant architecture was made to play, whereas iddleness was totally forbidden in More’s book.

 

An example of one of Constant's scale models for New Babylon

I can also imagine that some art tendencies would have been banned in Utopia. As they hide, as well, butcher houses because it stimulates human violence, they would have probably limited art to just beautifully looking things that appeal to “nice acts”.

But what More, with his deeply religious faith (which maybe nowadays would have been translated into a deep love for mankind) would have designed for nowadays? Aren’t we almost living in a utopia right now, isn’t Amsterdam some sort of bubble? How would he would have felt in our current capitalist world? He was not an artist but I believe he had a deep love and understanding for humanity. Which doesn’t take him that far from art..

 


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