Slow Plastic

Freedom Baird
MS in Media Arts and Science from the Media Lab at MIT
MFA candidate, Sculpture/Installation, Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Plastic is a material, and also a social and cultural construct. It arrives to most of us fully formed out of the “black box” of manufacturing. Plastic’s history—only a few generations old—is also something of a mystery to us despite plastic’s ubiquity in every facet of our lives. With this presentation we reclaim our awareness of the origins and manufacture of plastic, and how it can be made differently, including at home in the kitchen! We’ll look at plastic’s early role as an imposter, it’s emergence into our awareness as a material of convenience for an efficiently lived life, and it’s lingering reputation as a tawdry substitute. We’ll dig into the meaning of the word “synthetic” and consider that plastic might actually be a product of nature. We’ll investigate plastic’s impact in the design world, our expectations for plastic as consumers, and our responsibility to use it sustainably. And we’ll consider the environmental tactic of venerating plastic. The artist will bring samples of her Slow Plastic dinnerware, synthesized at home from cow’s milk, vinegar, rubbing alcohol and hot water.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 2.5: Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) on Saturday, March 12, 2016.