Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Material: Gold

This image probably looks familiar to some of the advanced students as well as some students in the casting class- ingots or cast bars of metal, in this case gold. Melting metal into a "blank" to begin making other forms of metal from: sheet, wire, grain, solder, etc.

It is interesting to look at the diverse dimensions associated with materials. Where materials come from, how they are obtained and who wants them. Historically, how they are valued, how they have been used over time, and evolving associations.

Many art making materials are extracted from the earth which is good in one way: these materials are not synthetic or chemically made; materials which are closely handled as artists tend to get down and dirty with their materials. Materials extracted from the earth can also have a down side. Extraction industries such as metal mining destroy entire mountain tops in the pursuit of material creating myriad damage and destruction in the process.

The New York Times today looks at gold through the lens of the global issue of economic instability. It is an integral lens with which to examine the things we make, the materials we use, and the things we make out of gold.

1 comment:

moonbrite said...

One more thing to remember when you make you choice of materials is that gold will not likely end up as just another piece of trash in a landfill.

Things like an aluminum soda can originate with the mining destruction in some far off land. Its production consumes tremendous energy which uses additional resources and causes considerable pollution. When it ends up at the dump, these ecological costs are part of the price paid for a few minutes of pleasure of the drink.

At least with gold, when the owner no longer values the artistic content of your work, there is still the intrinsic value of the material that keeps the environmental costs from being a total waste.