Out of thin Air


Following my current blogging, sustainability kick this week, I’m featuring a company called Graviky Labs. Based in Bangalore, India, this team of scientists and industrial designers are creating ink out of air pollution particles.

Yes, you read that correctly. Let me say it again: making ink…out of pollution.

How fascinating, right? I’m not a chemist by any means, so I’m not sure how they actually make it work. But let me break it down for the lay people out there. They produced a can that fits over a car exhaust, which then filters the smoke, creating particles of ash, which are then combined with different solvents to make liquid ink. This ink can then be used by anyone – artists have obviously taken an interest, since it’s such a uniquely creative idea.

Image result for graviky labs

Of all the sectors of pollution, the discussion around air pollution is often dismissed. As physically visible problems – trash in the ocean, dumping of chemicals in undesignated areas, burning of chemicals unlawfully, etc – often trump the unseen, the air we breathe is very nearly forgotten about. But air pollution has been a large contributor to detrimental health problems over the past decade, specifically in Asia.

What really fascinates me is the language they use to describe the pollution, and eventual ink. Their range of markers currently includes a 0.7 mm and 2 mm round tip, a 15 mm chisel tip, and a 50 mm wide tip. Under each marker description they have specifications on the average time it takes to make the ink. For example, a 2mm round tip marker would take approximately 50 minutes of diesel car pollution to create enough particles for the product. How freaking interesting.

Their website clearly states that the main byproduct of fossil fuel burning, is soot. This soot either ends up in water sources or our lungs. They are trying to directly combat the eventual destination by designing a product that takes those particles, and makes something useful and utterly mesmerizing of them. Sure, the ink looks just like any other ink. But when you see someone describe “oh, I illustrated this poster with 100 hours worth of pollution,” it makes the gears in your head turn about a million miles a minute.

Check out the comprehensive video of the patent pending technology below. Enjoy!

Treasured Waste


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? I’ve previously posted about garbage becoming art, and how transformative the hands of an artist can be. Although there is a special and significant role of fine art in this world, some may argue that art – just for art’s sake – is a form of consumption that cannot necessarily be repurposed. Art pieces are meant to prosper, but what comes of it when the life cycle is over? Unfortunately it becomes trash, just like any other product.

Insert a design company called Gomi. They’re currently still on Kickstarter (check it out here), but they are selling portable speakers made out of 100% recycled plastic. Not only do they look mesmerizing, but they are all handcrafted – every single piece is completely unique. In this day and age, it’s inevitable that we all have clothing, accessories, tech gadgets, and more, that are all mass produced. As someone who despises matching other people, I avidly seek out thrift stores and original-esq pieces that are curated to my lifestyle. So, me, being someone who clearly has individuality issues, this company speaks to me in many ways.

Not only is their philosophy of sustainability fantastically refreshing, the process of their work really speaks to their passion and craft. Exhibit A: they hand collect all of the flexible plastic (plastic bags being one of the worst cases of non-recyclability today) around their city in Brighton, UK; once collected, they melt it down (about 100 bags per speaker) and press it in their molds; each piece is then signed by the artist that creates it, adding, yet again to the uniqueness factor.

I really hope this company succeeds in their fundraising goal. It’d be amazing to see this product shake up the art and design industry!

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

I strolled through the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) museum this morning and came across a larger-than-life piece by El Anatsui in the Great Hall (photos above). From afar, it seems average. But when viewed up close, you can see the individual pieces, and it takes on a whole new form.

The description states that each molecule of the art was made from reclaimed aluminum liquor bottle caps. It reminded me of an artist from a film I watched a few years ago. His name is Vik Muniz, and he uses garbage collected from the infamous Jardim Gramacho dump site in Brazil to create unbelievably life-like and beautiful portraits:

Image result for vik muniz wasteland

I find large installation pieces fascinating to begin with – the majority of my work tends to be confined to smaller sketch pages – so the overwhelming stature of a work like this is particularly captivating. The attention to detail is fantastic, but it also speaks to a lot of comprehensive movement and fluidity.

As I was standing there (moving to and fro, close and far from the art) every single person who walked by was pulled in. The gravitational force of a piece like this is monumental. Even if someone wasn’t initially interested by the form, the description of the work (or physical closer inspection by that individual) tends to fully grasp them. Thinking of the shear volume of bottle caps someone would have to collect to even begin to create a work, is in itself, a feat. Not to mention the commentary it transcribes.

I would love to go into a deep dive on sustainable art in the near future. However, seeing something like this in person really does make a huge difference. After today, I’ll have to make a point of viewing (especially composed and intricate pieces like this) in person.