Sustainability, the antidote to consumerism?

The History

The internet before the internet is a pretty weak way of saying networking before the introduction of computers in the hands of every person. In this lecture we discussed the impact of war on technology. Interestingly enough, we saw how war advanced technology. Wars improved on existing technology. Technology like guns and rockets were birthed for the Second World War. These technologies evolved from the use of cavalry in the previous wars. Messages were sent between Axis Forces while the allies attempted to decode them, and vice-versa. Once the Great War ended  the advancement in technology continued.

The Social Impact

All this mass-production post World War One encouraged has only added to the devastation of the Earth. It isn’t going to be possible for me to write a half-decent blog post without the mention of art and the social impact of technology. Everything I cross paths with comes back into art. So when we talk about consumerism, capitalism, slave labour, and all else explored in this unit this semester, it naturally compartmentalizes itself in my mind in categories of art.

Unlike the last blog post, I’m going to tone consumerism differently. So let us not beat ourselves up over the dire state of the world and look at some pretty art. Let’s, for a moment, go back to the post-war Western world, where the economy was aided to by the consumption of things by the average household.

Artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster use junk and light to show the decay of the world. And after examining their work, and those with similar tones, it does get a little off-putting to see work highlighting only decay.

There are many beautiful designs and creations emerging from dumpsites.
Like Michael Moerkerk’s designs made out of keys and coins. It takes on a different tone from that of Noble and Webster’s. Moerkerk creates from thrown away metal objects beautiful designs.

Michael Moerkerk

Or even the humanistic forms in screws and bolts by artist Tobbe Malm. These artists do not need to produce new materials in order to be creative, to express themselves. They use recycled materials, materials the every day consumer would assume to be useless. And perhaps these are useless to them, because the average consumer is made to believe in the value of new products, things freshly bought from retail stores. ‘Retail therapy’ is encouraged, but what is it but making oneself feel good by purchasing things they may not necessarily need instead of taking the time out of their day to cultivate resources and exercise the creativity and innovation that their once child self was capable of doing.


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