All images are from Consumables, a project by artist Boo Chapple, with photography by Bo Wong.
The other week, Pia Ednie-Brown, editor of the recently released book Plastic Green: Designing Bio-spatial Futures, sent in a copy of Consumables, a pamphlet by artist Boo Chapple that imagines a world in which mobile phones are edible.
Part-whimsy, part-critique, and part-home-chemistry-kit, Consumables is part of a larger project, Alchemy for a Global Economy, in which Chapple addresses what she calls “the emergent aesthetics of sustainability.”
Although Chapple has been experimenting with starch-based plastics in her mother’s kitchen, Consumables is not intended as a serious design proposal. Instead, Chapple’s project plays with the inherent absurdity of environmental solutions that rely upon continued, and unsustainable, levels of consumption.
After all, if phones were edible, writes Chapple, “you could buy a new one twice a week and know that you were contributing something to the world simply by wasting more.”
Leaving the element of critique – legitimate and clever as it is – aside, I like the project for two reasons:
1. The photography really makes the phones look tasty, and,
2. Chapple serves up some unforgettable imagery, including “organised gangs of shit poachers” who dominate a future trade in sewage panning and microcomponent recycling. Meanwhile, she speculates that for wealthy consumers, gastro-intestinal ring tones would become the new belly-button piercing:
After the first few large component incidents – someone with a GPS stuck in their small intestine, or a camera lodged in their colon – visceral mods would become quite the thing and getting an internal ring tone the new teenage right of passage.
In other words, by re-framing everyday objects in terms of food – now imagine edible paper towels, edible plastic bags, perhaps even edible SUVs! – Chapple makes the culture of consumption and the economics of waste freshly tangible.