NXT creatives

Frej Wichmann

Göteborgs universitet, Konstnärliga fakulteten

Bubble Cabinet

The idea with ‘Bubble Cabinet’ was that it could be built with very few and accessible found materials: a bicycle, some discarded wood and some plastic bags. From these, a simple lathe, plastic bag shredder and rope-making machine were constructed. ‘Bubble Cabinet’ grew out of the project called ‘Undesirables’ which investigated unwanted, undesired materials, in collaboration with HDK PhD student Helena Hansson’s investigation of the Kisumu area in Kenya. Here, there is a big problem with water hyacinth that is spreading across the Victoria Lake and depleting the lake of oxygen. Hansson’s project works with craftspeople that make ropes out of the water hyacinth, which is mostly used for baskets. The project is a really practical way to turn invasive overgrowth and waste into recourse for economic development. An effect of the project is that it transformed the production from a single person, often female, into a collaborative production including both men and women. Frej Wichmann was inspired by the process of making ropes, developing a technique that shreds plastic bags into long stripes. Subsequently, the strips of shredded plastic bags get twisted and turned into ropes that are the foundation for the construction of ‘Bubble Cabinet’. The plastic bag is one of the 21st centuries most manufactured and discarded products. It has a short service life compared to the material itself, and this is a way to extend it. By investigating this simple process of refining material, a lathe driven by a bicycle was constructed. With commonplace construction materials, it only took a short time to build a machine strong enough to process and refine wood. The production became an investigation into how to rationalize craft as well as an inspiration of how things can be made with abundant resources. Like the socially transformative process of rope making in Kenya, the question of social values and sustainable development are lifted through the collective and do-it-yourself aspects of the production of ‘Bubble Cabinet’.