One of the things I have become very fascinated with in recent years is Japanese culture, both traditional and contemporary. I love their attention to detail, the discipline and obvious love and care for the work that shows in every piece.
It is a shame that a lot of traditional Japanese crafts are dying out such as book binding and knot tying so I really appreciate seeing authentic Japanese items like this.
The Landscape Within
The other thing that caught my eye in the V&A was the bizarre looking machine shown in the photograph below. I was very intrigued by it so I picked up a postcard from the exhibit and the explanation of what this thing is was something that made me more curious, amazed and also slightly disturbed by it.
Essentially this machine is a gut. The reason it concerns or worries me so is because the premise is that we are contaminating our landscapes with all sorts of awful things and using that same landscape to grow the food that we eat. It has been shown that rice contains arsenic and fish contains mercury so the idea here is to create a synthetic organ that adds a new stage to our digestion to to combat the harmful chemicals that we might be (or most likely are) ingesting.
It doesn’t end there however, because with future upgrades the gut will also be able to aid in triggering memories and combatting dementia as well as helping the development of IQ, countering aggressive behaviour and promote social interaction. I am a little wary of some of these ideas because I’m not sure yet how things like ‘countering aggressive behaviour’ would be implemented and what exactly that means. Whilst I’m not for the idea of people needlessly getting violent and nasty with each other, I have wondered if we’ve turned into a society that shuns emotions like anger which I don’t think is very helpful nor healthy. I think to attempt to self moderate feeling and emotion is going to put us down a path that makes me uncomfortable because there’s something very cybernetic and inhuman about trying to do that. I also think that solutions like this gut are perhaps going to have to be inevitable in the future but I’m not convinced they’re the kind solution we should be arriving at. By this I mean rather than making things to adapt humans to the changes that we’re making, in this case the changes we’re making to our environment and the things we’re putting into it (e.g. the arsenic in the rice) perhaps we should be doing more to reverse these changes. I don’t think that people feel responsible enough for the planet and I think that ideas like this prove it. To me, although a great feat of science and engineering granted, I still think this is taking the line of least resistance because the real solution is to change the way we exist i.e. we need to stop consuming as much as we do because we don’t need to consume the amounts of things that we do.
From an aesthetic standpoint I love this piece, it reminds of Alien and all the things that H. R. Giger designed. It’s very gruesome and yet because it is a very sterile and clean white it doesn’t immediately give off that vibe.