Solar still for a dystopic future
vacuum-formed PETG inserts, vinyl tubing,
The Ghost Still instigatively transforms Phillipe Starck’s iconic Louis Ghost chair into a solar still. Starck’s chair, of which 200,000 are sold each year representing over $60 million in retail sales, gains semantic potency by indexing classic Louis XV style while ironically employing state-of-the-art transparent polycarbonate plastic. Here, in turn, the Ghost Still gains meaning by referencing Starck himself as well as the associated product fetishization endemic of unsustainable, first-world consumer culture. Ironically, we cast the elitist Louis Ghost in desperate utilitarian terms; the democratizing need for potable water interrupts the sense of class and assaults the pure, classic form. Louis Ghost’s ghost-like quality, achieved through Starck’s choice of clear plastic, is here leveraged for its practicality rather than its designerly expressiveness. The Ghost Still points to the disappearance of clean water and other environmental resources as well as to the inevitable evanescence of unsustainable design flamboyance and accompanying modes of contemporary consumption.
The Ghost Still imagines a shift in consciousness born out of dystopian necessity. Water production becomes an individual and localized event, too precious for external or governmental reliance. Consumers become conscious of their wastewater, as this becomes the source for future distilled drinking water. Nature (through the sun) garners respect for its seemingly miraculous ability to purify. The Louis Ghost chair is able to make amends with the environment and society. Individual responsibility is examined and re-imagined. Subject-object relationships are understood as necessarily recursive affairs that tactically and strategically demand a sustainable approach.
Betty Rymer Gallery
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Negotiated Localities by Ryan Griffis