For the first time, there is no brief to adhere to or a stated outcome to work towards. Everything we do for our Final Major Project has to come about as a result of our individual thinking and efforts. While this is brilliant fun and liberating, it is also incredibly difficult because we have zero parameters set out for us. We have been let loose in the kitchen but nobody has specifically said ‘now cook something’. I have tried to find my own points of reference but not to let them become rules. We are far too early in the research to do this. It’s important that I maintain focus on finding the right (and few in number) areas that interest me, inform myself of what I can make the materials do in the available workshops and identify broad concepts to play with. Truthfully, that is plenty to be getting on with.
As part of this early phase of experimenting for our Final Major Projects, our tutors have strongly recommended that we start with materials already familiar to us. For me, this is highly reflective plastic sheeting and rubber inner tubes. The contrasting properties of rubber tubing are of interest and I know that I haven’t fully got to grips with everything that the stretchy waterproof material can do yet. I’m less sure about the potential of the plastic sheeting as a material for my final project. My reasons centre around the fact that it’s not from a bicycle to start with, or even used for any aspect of cycling. The connection is tenuous but not impossible. For Where Next, the exhibition at Bath Spa station, I had played with the offcuts of this sticky-backed plastic most commonly applied to the sides of emergency service vehicles like ambulances and police cars. The origins of my chosen material is perhaps a parameter I can set myself, but I haven’t decided yet.
Variations of line. Casting in resin and concrete seem contradictory to the most basic tenets for this project. Why am I using toxic or permanent materials when the rest of my research has centered around making and processes with a low environmental impact? I should rethink what it is I am really investigating and consider just how eco or green I am and want to be. Can this kind of questioning help to define my work or can it only serve to pigeon-hole it?
Unfortunately, the resin went off before I could fill the tube properly. With hindsight, the entry hole was wide enough for the connecting funnel but the resin was given time to go off inside the natural bottleneck joint. I could have made a much larger hole and poured the resin in directly, without the need for a separate funnel at all. The second test was concrete stuffed into a larger inner tube with a gaping hole. As it’s more viscous and heavy, I found it much easier to work with and manipulate inside the rubber tube than resin. Being able to feel where the concrete was and if there were air bubbles was not a matter of guesswork. The erect tube on the right had a single hole in one of the bottom folds, effectively disguising and self-sealing it. The concrete solidified slowly over the weekend and by the following week, was able to stand up without supports. The result is quite pleasing in terms of giving the tube a contorted life of its own but somewhat static. It cannot be moved or rearranged easily. This effect could probably be created with a partially inflated tube and water or sand in the base.
Communication/gestures/movements using the body. Cycling is a very simple repetitive movement of the legs and not much else. What kind of things could be communicated visually using the reflective plastic? Image on the left suggests to me celebration, gathering and applause. Image on the right is more like sign language and shows the numbers 6-9 in Chinese. The numbers 1-5 are largely the same as we have in the UK but 6 and 7 (see hands on the top row) have their own gestures, as do 8 and 9 (hands on bottom row). I cannot see this continuing in a design way so will drop it for now, and the material.
In 2012, the French designer Gaspard Tine-Beres was a student at the RCA in London when he designed a series of recycled appliances called Short Circuit. The products were made from discarded small electrical goods minus most of the plastic. Instead they were given beakers or other glass vessels and made safe with moulded cork granules. This is a fantastic outcome and all brought together by the wonders of cork.