Melting Plot

a Statistical Sculpture

Self-narration and the Art of Asking (oneself) the right Question

 

Proposal for a workshop series in cooperation with the artist group and plastic recycling cooperative Minipogon, Belgrade, students of the Design School „Bogdan Šuput“, Novi Sad, in cooperation with the new media center _kuda.org as part of Novi Sad – European Capital of Culture 2022.

When Novi Sad will be European Capital of Culture in 2022, it will be the first city in a candidate country to hold this title. This makes it particularly interesting to invite the students of the Design School in Novi Sad, in a very multicultural region of Serbia, to reflect on their identity within Europe. How do they think of themselves, how would they describe / define themselves, what parts of their identity matter to them and why.

This part of self-narration leads directly to the Art of asking (oneself) the right (or wrong) question – in other words: Statistics. So, I would like to invite the students to collect data & desiderata regarding different fields (e.g. languages spoken, living area + circumstances, socio-economic situation – e.g. part-time job after school or not, relatives abroad, holidays or visits in other countries, wish to live/work/study abroad, political interests, sexual orientation, gender, ...), depending on the students’ interests and priorities.

All these statistical self-narratives result in 4 Statistical Sculptures, that picture (selected aspects of) the participants' life realities, irrealities or wishes.

 

The proposal consists in building 4 Statistical Sculptures:

Melting Plot I+II

 

Melting Plot I :

This sculpture offers the possibility to write 10 different identities ("what we are") onto the columns. The passers-by can add (e.g. 5) plastic slices from the lot to every column that they most identify with. When all columns are filled, the plates can be overwritten and new identities can be "opened".

 

Melting Plot I

 

 

Melting Plot II:

Each of these (three) statistical sculptures ("what we do" – "what we want" – "what we think" ) offers 10 thematic bars with 10 slices each, i.e. an ideal number for the representation of percentages. It is thus possible to display the results of different (preconducted) thematic surveys or to use the structure for instant surveys with 5-10 participants on site. For this tool, topics should be chosen that are suitable for graduated answers between two extreme points, within a spectrum (examples see sketches down).

 

Melting Plot II h profil

 

Technical note: the plastic slices are riding in a framework made from aluminium H-profiles (fixed in a wooden frame), thus cannot be taken out, just moved horizontally to the left or the right side.

 

This sculpture would be a tangible result of the work process that would remain in the school and could be the starting point or a tool for different exercises in self-narration by the students and act as a "Statistical Mirror".

It could further on serve as a tool for democratic self-organization and accompany collective decision-making processes by the students.

In order to work as a Statistical multi-purpose tool, the topic plates (as visualized in the sketches above, left and right of the bars) should be exchangeable and adaptable. There could be a set of prepared plates in different categories together with a number of empty, unlabeled plates that can be inscribed according to specific needs.

Writing together a MELTING PLOT reminds of course of one of the main activities in plastic recycling: collecting, sorting, shredding & melting, hence: shredded and melted identities, shredded facts, melted figures.

 

detelinara park

lid sorting

Part 1:

During three days, from 16-18 May 2022, we worked together in a small park in front of _kuda.org in the Detelinara district of Novi Sad. Students of the Design School Bogdan Šuput presented posters inviting the neighbourhood to join the plastic recycling in newly made collectors. Neighbours kept passing by, bringing material along, radio and local tv was also present, etc. In a collective effort, everybody joined the plastic recycling process, i.e. bringing along, cleaning, washing, drying, sorting by type (HDPE = type 2 vs. PP = type 5 vs. "suspicious ones"), sorting by colours, shredding and finally melting it to new shapes.

Minipogon has left the product line "birds" (too exhausting, cf. Štiglić Šiber, 2020)* and moved on to bars and sticks, made with iron profiles:

sticks

 

kuda sticks

 

Two of these bars have been brought to Vienna by _kuda.org for test slicing, to produce quantity of single slices:

slice size: 25 x 55 x 9 mm

tokens cross

 

tokens 1 tokens 3

tokens cross 2tokens cross

 

tokens haufen

approximately 150 slices on a heap

Part 2:

will happen on Novi Sad ŠTRAND, between 25th and 31st of July 2022, daily between 2 and 6 pm (tbc).

strand plastik token

 

 

* an initial concept, still revolving around birds and taking use of the already existing mould, gave rise to these first sketches, providing examples for potential topics:

Melting plot birds sketch

Melting Plot bird sketch 2

Melting Plot birds ohne

Still, the idea to have a Statistical sculpture with 2 layers (identities + attitudes/wishes/actions) in one, proved to be too unflexible, given the rather hop-on-hop-off-nature of the project.