Prompt: Students will be focusing on investigating and re-imagining the physical properties of their objects by re-making— or “translating” -- the object into a variety of materials.
As we think of “sponge”, the first thing that usually comes to our mind is the puffy cleaning tool in our kitchen sink (or Sponge Bob Square Pants). It hardly occurs to us that the sponge has existed as a prehistoric creature under the sea. Our unawareness/strangeness of its biological imagery signifies the tendency of humans being alienated from nature. Merely paying attention to its industrial function, humans are perceiving nature as an abiotic component in the manufacturing process. From an ancient animal to a synthetic cleaning tool, the transition of the sponge’s role implies how the broad concept of “nature” is continuously changing in human society: firstly appeared as an exploitable resource, then degraded as a replicable tool that can be manually recreated and largely manufactured. In this project, foam (a type of synthetic sponge) is unnaturally dyed (using watercolor pigment) and recombined to resemble the body of an imaginary sea creature. By not assigning this “creature” a distinctive characteristic of any specific sea animals, I wish to perceptually explore the outcome of visualizing “a natural creature” using synthetic materials in the situation where we are physically alienated from nature. Through the musical experience rendered by the wavy form and the harmony of artificial light, the project questioned our awareness of what is nature and what is man-made.