Hyper-Local HMA Concept Series
Brief Overview (TLDR):
The ‘Hyper-Local HMA’ (Heavy Material Acquisition) concept was born from ideations on how to achieve unique concrete object designs (see: HEAVY) without committing the near absolute-sin of shipping these items across large distances to the eventual end-user. The concept is that the user would receive the laminate wood top, the wood connecting materials, and the steel connecting hardware via standard shipping options. Then, in order to complete the fabrication, the user would purchase their own relative-identical concrete blocks from their closest local hardware or building supplies store and assemble the final piece themselves with simple tools. This would achieve the goal of being a solid, quality concrete furniture piece without having to subject the environment to such a harsh toll via typical air or ground shipping from the substantial weight of the concrete blocks.
This series is the start of my ongoing research and exploration into the realities of non-local consumerism and how to lessen the environmental impacts inherent within it, especially within the context of an art/object operation. At what point does the line have to be drawn for something to be environmentally unacceptable to ship over a certain distance in concerns with its weight or size? How can this toll even be ultimately quantified? Or is it just a qualitative and subjective exercise?
When judging the environmental toll of some object or operation one of course has to consider the impact or importance of the object or operation itself, in relation to the toll. Then at that point, you're really talking about something as trivial as attempting to compare the wants/needs/desires of a human(s) vs. the Earth and Environment itself, as if we could ever do such a thing at all. However, avoiding this endless metaphysical trap (see: Transcendental Dialectics), at some point the line does need to be drawn, so to speak. I started becoming interested in using these 8x8" concrete blocks in some new designs, and quickly realized how incredibly heavy they are when fully assembled. I wouldn't have any issue making these and selling them locally in LA, but the thought of shipping these heavy concrete blocks somewhere across the country (or worse: World), regardless of shipping costs, was unconscionable.
I often ride a fine line with my work between art and design, and in some instances where a certain work may contain a conceptually important artistic ethos and also happen to be quite heavy, I could justify the shipment to a gallery or other institution. The reason for this is knowing that the work would be impacting a good amount of people who view it, and ultimately, at least for a work like this, the takeaway is environmental awareness or at least tangential to it. Whereas if a piece as small and heavy as these gets shipped across the country to sit in someone's living room to be seen by two people for its entire life - that doesn't seem worth the environmental toll to me from a moral standpoint.
So again it kind of comes down to a philosophical and ethical contemplation of human's wants and needs vs. the environment's wants and needs. It would be great if there was some sort of accepted standard of happiness/necessity quanta that could be measured across both the human species and the environment. Then we could easily just plug in some variables into an algorithm and see if a certain action or object is actually worth whatever environmental toll it has tied to it. Responsibly using air conditioning during dangerous temperature spikes to avoid heat stroke? Probably worth it, according to the algorithm. Taking your internal combustion vehicle to get groceries? *Probably* not worth it. Taking your private jet to Disney World for the 3rd time this year because you have an irreparable pit of despair within you? Definitely not worth it.... according to the algorithm.
However, you only have to spend a moment thinking about this concept before realizing that in order to even begin putting this into practice you would basically have to analyze and categorize every single action or object or any endless variation and function of either in relation to the impact it has on the environment. As well as come up with some vaguely coherent quanta that describe arbitrary units of the Earth's happiness. Seems like a lot of work. In fact, I think I just accidentally got caught in the same mental trap I described earlier. So for now, for me, I'm using my best judgment about when I can ship heavy things and when I cannot.