“The Stone and Bronze Ages are so called because most implements were made of those particular materials. The asset of plastics is that, unlike precious metals and stones, it is a universal material, available to everyone. Synthetic resin is transformed into articles that can be exclusive and expensive, or cheap rubbish.” / Penny Sparke: The Plastics Age
This book sets out to explain the difference between the major types of plastics, their historical context and the value they manifest. It illustrates the history of plastics, traces their use and development in the past, to envision its future.
The project began with the idea to put an underappreciated material on a pedestal, in an attempt to make it seem luxurious, and, thus, affect people’s opinion on it. I chose plastic because it is a material the value of which has changed a number of times throughout history; the story of plastics is one that reflects the story of humankind itself. By looking at plastics from an archaeological point of view, I imagine a future where plastics are no longer produced and become a resource found underground, a relic of long gone days. Already today, the earliest items in this material, not being made anymore, are seen as luxury goods, while, at the same time, we carelessly bin plastic wrappings every day, only proving that scarcity is luxury. The project resulted in an encyclopedia that I call The Cabinet Of Anthropogenic Specimens, where I present plastics as gemstones dating back to the era of Anthropocene to educate our future and present selves about the different types of this man-made fossil that will be ‘found’. By portraying plastic as a valuable jewel, I hope to make us see it as such, to reconsider its application as disposables and question our throwaway attitude.