Analogy: From Business World to Ethnography and to Political System
The artist’s work:
1. Materials: Household plastic bags for daily consumption–Here the households comprise of the artists’ mixed gender flatmates in the university’s accommodation. They buy daily food and consume plastic bags, usually provided by retail stores/supermarkets without charge. The stores’ names include: Tesco, HiYou, Sainsbury, M&S, Poundland, Wilkinson, Iceland, Nisa, Target, ASDA. Some other bags are pure white which don’t belong to any brands or stores.
2. Finding out flatmates’ consumption habit: The 3 petals of the flower at the top are made up of Tesco’s bags. Each two bigger ones comprise 27 medium size bags in total, including the clasp. The smaller petal is made up of 9 small size bags also including the clasp. They comprise the main flower of this plant. This shows that the main store the flatmates visit is Tesco, as is a proof of a COMMON (here it means opposite to both luxury and poverty) consuming character of this community.
3. Starting Parametric: the 27-bag (3*3*3) petals and the 9 (3*3) petal altogether contribute to a 3-petal flower. Following (below) it are three leaves, each comprises of 8, 7 and 6 bags sequentially up to down. In order to make the change smoothly, the 8-bag one still uses Tesco’s bags, while the 7-bag HiYou, and the 6-bag white nameless. It is also ok if they are regarded as buds, since green leaves can and already are added through photoshops; Near the bottom–the flower on the collateral branch is colourful , There are some rules behind such organizations: Basically it is a 5-petal flower: Orange-1 Sainsbury; light green-4 M&S; white with red rectangular-2 Iceland; white/transparent-3 nameless, plus a VERSATILE 5. Interestingly, this VERSATILE 5 bags are made up of Nisa, Poundland, Wilkinson, Target and ASDA. They come from 5 stores with the ASDA one as the clasp. Altogether, the number line existing in this flower up to down is: 27(3*3*3)*2,9(3*3),8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1, which is numerically organized (from decimal system to index system, which approaches to the binary).
4. Analogy: In China (as is carved on the flower pot, which is a metaphor of the terrain where Chinese agricultural civilization originates–a basin between/around Yellow River and Yangtze River), there are many ethnic groups, and the majority of which is called Han Ethnicity. They lived mainly in the basin area, in the far ancient times. Here in this artwork, the representation is the Tesco bags, in the plant’s mainstream. However, other smaller ethnic groups also grow and becomes gradually stronger and stronger. They take nutritions from the basin’s soil, and make their own flower (the collateral branch). They partly learn from how the mainstream flower grows and behaves, but forms their own styles as well, such as their colourful clothes, as has been represented by the colourful bags themselves. Now they act not only as the decoration of the plant, but plays the significant role in showing the foreign appreciators how China looks like.
(1) Merely arousing the aesthetic enjoyment is far from enough. To become a robust flower inherently asks for a robust structure. While it is admitted direct democratic system has its merit in a group like the VERSATILE 5, where each bag has a say, this is nonetheless never appropriate to the whole plant. If, each bag votes and lets the decision deliver across the stems, 99 votes must be counted and transported, which may cost a lot of time, and thus miss the best time to flower. Moreover, if each bag votes, chances that the Tesco bags group win are much bigger than those smaller groups, which , is DEMOCRATICALLY fair, but not good to make the minority groups heard and respected. The whole plant would also lose its attractiveness. Thus a redesign should be made towards the political system.
(2) Solution: As is shown in the plant, the collateral branch one stands together and forms a new flower. If several minor groups could somehow unite together, their voices might be easily heard. And if the mainstream flower can elect several representatives, together with the 8, 7, 6-bag groups’ representatives, decisions may be more quickly achieved, and the minor groups can have more power, based on how much weight these representatives are allocated .
(3) Expression: If this system is called REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY, it sounds as if the democratic system originating from Ancient Greek Civilization wins. However a more appropriate title for China may be DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATION, where representation is a core habit to express something that is hard to differentiate, like the dragon totem generated in Chinese agricultural civilization. This expression also shows an attitude to learn something from the West, which goes ahead in the Modern and Post modern social process, and somehow respect individuals. This is a balance among efficiency, fairness, and the need to respect the minorities.
This is a flower in a DEFORMED brown frame. The frame is put on the grass, and looks like the ridge of the irrigating pond, everywhere in fields. In total, this is a pond dug on grass. What is interesting is that though the flower and the pot are flattened to horizontal to show in the image (the bags’ photo was taken from above), when browsing it using laptop devices, it still stands upright.
森 is a Chinese character. it comprises 3 similar characters 木, which means timber/wood。Using 3 木, 森 tries to deliver the meaning of a lot of wood, thus it means forest. Here, the location/angle of the flower bags in the image is similar to that of upper level 木 in 森. It factually is horizontal/flat on the ground. However it is shown/pictorially manifested as vertical/ standing upright (森 or the Chinese characters belong to ideogram system, which, from its original creation, has already become pictorial).
As is always asserted as “recycling materials”, plastics, however can never be called environmentally friendly. The pollution comes from burning it and generating poisonous gas, or burying it but without efficient degradation–thus it becomes apparent trash on the streets. This, deviates from the definition of Recycling. Recycling should at least mean environmentally friendly, or ecologically useful, not just having some artificial abandoning process itself, like the plastics’ burning and burying procedure.
Thus, this artwork works as a start, to redress the misunderstanding of recycling—-though not having thought up a proper way of abandoning these materials, the artist at least make them more useful–whether it’s the educational purposes to be achieved through this blog post, or the aesthetic purposes to be achieved by this flower model and creative frame type, or the sociological/ethnographic purposes to be achieved through its representation of a possibly ideal political structure.
Thanks for the enjoyment.
Recommended to read–some marketing research group based on the web:
plus Tesco Food and Wine Newsletter once you’ve owned its Clubcard.