Geopolymer 3D Printer, various amount of miniature peaks (Marius Förster, Peter Tränkle, 2020 ongoing)
Material Conversations investigates posthuman ontologies within popular culture of the capitalocene. It is an offshoot from the speculative and participative project “3000 Peaks”, a critical mediation that addresses the consequences and effects of the global climate catastrophe for Switzerland.
The installation/performance prints with real alpine rocks and debris
miniature peaks as souvenirs that are more accurate in their materiality than in their appearance. The work asks what it is that creates and stabilizes our relation to what surrounds us.
Souvenir shops are cluttered with low-quality mass products, which of course ridiculously and rather comically fail to represent sites as tourist landmarks. From their overwhelming cacophony of weirdly distorted, exaggerated, and condensed features – impressing with their quantity rather than material quality – souvenirs drag us into different relations to and between things and remind us of our own superficial, selective, biassed, and at times surreal ways of remembrance.
Spreading out into the world, some of the souvenirs may survive and over time nevertheless become voices for those sites, people or events they were supposed to stand for in the first place. It is by their entanglement with personal memories, by their catering to sentimentalities of nostalgia and not least by their unpretentious tchotchke-aesthetics that souvenirs function on an affectional rather than a rational level.
Mostly, it isn’t the material but its surface, formal features or references to meme-like details that claim a symbolic relation to the commemorated places. All you need is a good story to turn even the cheapest of trinkets into a precious thing, right? However, this is part of the very extractive economy that through detours exploits material existence by so preciously putting it into stories of naturality. But how much has to be turned into a commodity in order to appreciate its mere existence.
The installation explores ways to get hold of the present by remembering it as a past by means of the souvenir – comforting it's caring owner into the creation of future related relationships to their everyday life.
So one designerly question is, what politics are inscribed to the thing, and how do they come to play? What do we learn from a quirky miniature peak that oscillates between symbolic and material realms?