wu jin qi yong

I went to see Waste Not by Song Dong at the Barbican the other day. It was great, really jaw-dropping.

entrance to waste not

phones at waste not

The pictures don’t really convey the sheer scale of stuff. From scraps of cloth to buckets and wire cages to newspapers and toys.

shoes at waste not

bowls at waste not

bottles at waste not

The story of objects reminds me of a few things, which may or may not be connected. I’m not sure they all run together, but they all feel worth sharing.

  1. Becky, an artist friend, has made an amazing book of objects for the time machine project. I can’t wait for you to see it.
  2. I had lunch with the ever-interesting Ted the other day, and we talked a lot about how we’re making strange virtual imitations of real, physical things. Like running or skating games for the Wii or Kinect. They’re simulacra; perfectly fine and fun in themselves, but really nothing like as good as the real thing.
  3. For some reason I have it stuck in my head that Ted Hughes said that Sylvia Plath had a carpenter-like approach to poetry. If she couldn’t make a table, then she would make a chair.

If there is a thread running through these things, and I’m not sure there is, it’s somewhere between the poles of provenance of objects, and the need to remix and reinvent them. It’s that he need to keep the story and meaning of things, but also give them new contexts and new lives in the spirit of wu jin qi yong (“waste not”), feels really important somehow at the moment. And that maybe it’s where the best, most interesting art, technology or business models will come from.

So, yeah.


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