Collages for Material Times

When I was a kid, I imagined we would already have flying cars and colonize Mars in 2019 (ok, there are some attempts, but not there yet) and that leaves this strange feeling of all the unaccomplished sci-fi ideas we were so much looking forward while growing up. Instead, the original enthusiasm from new futuristic materials, such as plastics, dissolves in climate anxiety and piles of toxic waste.

Yes, we do have artificial intelligence, super-fast Internet and video-calls (I still remember video-calls being a huge thing in old sci-fi movies!), but somehow we are not able to solve the material side of globalization and technological progress. We’re suffocating with plastics, drinking microplastics in our beer, and there’s no will to invest in new materials or new way of packing things. We generate tons of waste that just sits somewhere and waits for the doomsday, or in the worse case, is set on fire. The weather patterns are becoming unpredictable, the newspaper say we’ll be witnessing apocalypse soon, but somehow we still like to play catastrophic games and watch zombie movies rather than address the issue seriously.

Material Times brings interviews with people who are trying their best to find alternative material solutions, consider sustainability and the complexity of design production and inspire others with their pioneer projects. I was asked to create images that would illustrate the interviews. Instead of showing the real material or products, I chose to communicate the general idea with various cultural references, hugely inspired by the aesthetics of utopian sci-fi visions from several decades ago.

There’s a company (MIWA) that goes beyond the packaging-free goods idea and produces reusable capsules that can cover the whole logistic cycle. These capsules are equipped with wi-fi and can travel to your home while you watch the progress in your mobile app. Imagine such future, where these capsules would even be able to fly on their own and land at your window!

Even such non-fancy thing like construction waste can become a desirable product for someone, like it is often the case at the online marketplace called CYRKL. And knowing such idea exists definitely gives a little hope to in future. Anyone who ever used dating app Tinder will immediately understand how it all works.

Or, anyone wants to play Candy Crush with our planet?

If it’s not the old sci-fi movies, then it’s the popular games that inspire me in visualizing the thoughts on our society and consequences of our behavior. Aren’t we actually playing real-life Tetris with overproduction and non-recyclable waste? Isn’t it all too familiar to the feeling of speeding up Tetris game, when the blocks keep falling faster and faster in the worst shapes and directions. A little drop of sweat on the forehead, cramps in the fingers, the system is speeding up but it hits the physical limits of the human body – and fails. GAME OVER.

Or sometimes it even looks like the player is not even trying to get rid of the cubicles. Sometimes, it seems like it’s a race for the fastest way to the end.

Meanwhile we’re sitting in the glass buildings, protected with air-condition and the whole complicated system of pipes that bring water and another pipes that take away our human waste. It’s the year 2030 and the world outside does not remind the view we were used to see in the spring at all. It does not resemble the living planet with moist green nature, buzzing bees and singing birds. To remember and honor this image of a nature, we decorate the office window with adhesive foil in the well-known shapes of trees and birds.

It’s one of those smart solutions. It’s not just mere decoration – it has an important function – it’s a safety measure for drones to not hit the glass surfaces. People say we used to do the same for birds in the past. A bit ironic, right?

Material Times is the first Czech magazine about materials and related topics. It wants to inform readers about new trends and ideas, featuring new possibilities and procedures as well as opinions of remarkable people and various initiatives. It aims to seek traditions, inspire innovations and reflect on their implications for our society or the environment. Focus of the magazine derives from the desire to connect the creative world of architecture, art, crafts and design with the one of technology, new materials and science.