Pascal Marcel Dreier



Working at intersections of art, design, strategy and research—by crossing boundaries between speculation and realities, research and practice, but most importantly between disciplines, I focus on multispecies relations and structures of power.  


2019

  1. Multispecies Archaeology

  2. Pronoun Realism

  3. Chroma Politics

  4. Aquarium


2018

  1. Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium and the Opium Wars in China

  2. Dreaming of CRISPR 

  3. Interspecies Cannibalism

  4. Becoming (with) Monsters

  5. Affect and Interface


This site is an ongoing project, which is updated daily.  
Here you can find the archive ︎



Mark

Project 201901
Multispecies Archaeology (AT)


Fig. 1: Cows bone I, photographed 24 hours prior to cremation

   
ABSTRACT
        For this project I collected bones of non-human animals my partner ate. I calcinated them at around 1000 degrees celsius to turn them into bone ash and form a porcelain object. 

BACKGROUND
 
„The better I know an animal, the harder it is for me to slaughter it.” [...] Is there grief involved, slaughtering familiar animals every week? „Yes“, Nina says, „if we slaughter a lot, I sometimes reach my limit.“1

This citation is taken from an interview that took place at a Demeter-certified barnyard. On the other hand, in the 2018 documentary „Dominion“, it can be consistently observed how employees of slaughterhouses and farms maltreat nonhuman animals. The animals are offended often in a sexist and misogynist way, thrown around and beaten – mostly by men.
        This raises the classic question of the embodiment of evil, but also those after missing grief work and various forms of perpetratorship and also the means of becoming a witness. Are those working in factory farming these so-called "evil" people? Due to the social acceptance of the mistreatment and killing of non-human beings, which is taking place in isolation from the everyday life of most people, they discovered this niche for themselves, where they can act out their fantasies of power undisturbed? With this description rather sounding extreme, it has to be noted, that this would be a typical need of moderately to severely psychopathic individuals.
        The behaviour of people working on some few small (eg Demeter certified) farms might differ as it can be seen in the interview above. Why do people maintain a different way of dealing with non-human animals, although two crucial points - killing and exploitation - are equally present in both traditional farming and (organic3) factory farming?

Fig. 2 Dominion (2018) 01:00:52

        The Stanford Prison Experiment made clear, that apparently completely harmless students can turn into monsters when certain conditions are given. The experiment – a scandal that gets worldwide attention. Whereas the suffering of non-human animals will continue to be promoted. This leads to the conclusion, that the environment, the atmosphere and the tasks in factory farming, might be the reason for people to turn to what we, when we witness it, might call “evil”. 
        What about the people who are in relations of complicity, by asking for goods established under these conditions? How can coexistence and relationship of people with different concepts of action (for example those who reject products of animal origin and those who consume them on the other hand) be possible or designed in a dialogical/affective way?

        With this work, I want to explore these questions by looking at my own relationship and starting a dialoge with my partner, the animals remains and others involved. Also questions of the non-existence of traces in the capitalist reality of restaurants and supermarkets as well as where they went “missing” will be considered relevant. One part will be, to collect bones in connection with my partners consumption of animal-products. At the end of this self-reflective research process there will be a procelain object. This was the first idea that came to my mind while thinking about traces as material. It is therefore connected to the emergence of bone china in the 18 century. England was in need of materials it could not produce by itself or in its colonies. One example is Chinese green tea, another is kaolin (also known as china clay). Thomas Frye discovered, that an at this time in England highly available material could be used as a substitute. Therefore, the worlds first documented proposal of using bone ash for manufacturing porcelain can be found in Thomas Fryes (Bow Porcelain Company) second patent:

On Nov. 17, 1749, Thomas Frye, of the parish of West Ham in the Co. of Essex, painter, for a new method of making a certain ware, which is not inferiorin beauty and fineness, and is rather superior in strength, than the earthenware that is brought from the East Indies, and is commonly known by the name of China, japan, or porcelainware." Animals, vegetables, and fossils, by calcining, grinding and washing, are said to produce an insoluble matter, named virgin earth, but some in greater quantities than others, as all animal substances, all fossils of the calcareous kind, as chalk, limestone, &c.: take therefore any of these classes, calcine it, grind and wash it in many waters [...] 1


GETTING THE MATERIAL
       In most restaurants, trying to get the corresponding bones of the meal (e.g. bone soup) or bones at all is vain endeavour. The bones most likely never reached the kitchen or are thrown away. However, upon others a Chinese restaurant we visited in Vienna could hand us the bones connected to the soup my partner ate. I put the bones on ice for conservation, while I worked out how to go on.
Later in the process my partner helped me with asking the restaurant staff of the places she had her meals for bones. This worked out quite well and I could collect even more.
        I never bought any bones, they were always connected to the specific restaurant, the day my partner ate there and sometimes the meal itself. The bones would have been thrown away by the restaurants.

BURNING OF BONES
        On Friday, Nov. 30. 2018, the first bones were prepaired for burning. The ash is ready 6 hours later. In February I will calcinate more – mostly cow bones.


Fig. 3 Bones in the kiln at around 200° celcius.

        The bones were calcinated at around 1100° celcius oxidating. Unfortunately there is no possibility for reduction firing at my University anymore. Before the burning, the bones were dried using a flat heating curve (one hour at around 80° celcius). After calcination the bones are mostly porous, white, with some brown or grey spots (most likely due to reduction firing).


Fig. 4 Bones after calcination

        Some parts of the bones are still extremely hard, which makes the process of grinding the bones by hand especially tiring. I was pestling for hours using a large porcelain mortar. After some time I was adding water, to bind the already pulverised material. I did also try to pulverise the bones in a ball mill – of little avail. The outcome was mostly fine bone ash but with still some bigger pieces. My decision was to not screen it which becomes visible in the end result. I like to think of it as traces, as discontinuity, last call,  aesthetic manifestation and visible (precarious) agency.  


Fig. 5 Bones, mortar and pestle

DESIGN PROCESS 
        The design process actually started before I was working with bones – the rendering shows an impeccable industrially produced object. The remains are not visible – neither outside nor inside. There is no trace.
        During the research process I was looking into historic aspects of  death ritual related vessels in different parts of the world. Additionally I studied contemporary ceramics including exhibition cataloges on urn-related exhibitions. I was influenced by notions of usability (Brauchbarkeit) and its reflection in ancient Chinese philosophy – especially 庄子 Zhuangzi: 

The region of Jingshi in Song is fine for growing catalpas, cypresses, and mulberries. But those that are more than one or two arm lengths around are cut down for people who want monkey perches; those that are three or four spans around are cut down for the ridgepoles of tall roofs; and those that are seven or eight spans are cut down for the families of nobles or rich merchants who want side boards for coffins. So they never get to live out the years Heaven gave them but are cut down in midjourney by axes. This is the danger of being usable.4

Should the porcelain object be practical and useful or usable at all? What will the different states mean in a human-animal narration?  
       The design of the Urn I includes references which make it immediatly appear as an urn – at the same time the lid is not where it is expected to be. Urn I is divided in the lower middle, which still enables the function of storing things but also to use each of the two parts as eating vessel. It can be used to keep ash, but instead the ash is part of the object. 


Fig. 6 Rendering Urn I, Vray

This object can be thought of as a hybrid – at the same time urn and dinnerware. This becomes possible through a two piece form and the possibility to open the lid easily. After the concept drawings, a 3D-Rendering of the final object was created by using Cinema 4D together with the VRAY renderer. After this, a 3D-printable file was created and a prototype printed.
        Now that the size, form and color of the object were set, I had to find a porcelain recipe/mixture, that turns out relatively white even when burned in an oxidating kiln. I found such a mixture and combined this with the bone ash, which also adds a little more white to it. Here you can find a comparison of different porcelain mixtures and how they look after burning ︎
        The next steps were again happening at the ceramics studio of the University of Applied Arts Vienna – the creation of the plaster model and molds. 

PLASTER MODEL AND MOLDS
        By using just the technical drawings based on the rendering and the 3D-printed object, a plaster model was created. Then, the model was used to cast the molds. 


This video shows how the models were shaped by hand using an efficient potter’s wheel combined with different tools. Due to many drying cycles and the general complexity, this step took around one week to be complete.

CASTING THE PORCELAIN OBJECT


Fig. 7 Preparing the plaster molds, Ceramics studio, University of Applied Arts Vienna

Here you can find an in detail documentation of the casting process ︎

REWORKING THE CAST OBJECT


Fig. 8 Process of reworking the porcelain urn before burning. Ceramics Studio, University of Applied Arts Vienna.

The cast object has to be reworked after drying to remove the seam created by the two parts of the mold as well as drops left in the inner part of the object and to treat other inaccuracies.  

BURNING OF PORCELAIN
        The porcelain is burned at 1220 degrees celsius oxidating, because there is no reducing kiln at the University of Applied Arts. Aluminum oxide is used to prevent the two parts from sticking together or to the ground. Here you can find more photos of the process ︎


Fig. 9 Taking out the finished objects at around 50° celcius


Project details
Supervisor: Prof. Ute Hörner, Academy of Media Arts, Cologne, Germany
Supervisor (Ceramics): Sen. Lect. Mag. art. Maria Wiala; Sen. Lect. Mag. Ing. Peter Platzer; Sen. Lect. Mag. art. Martina  Zwölfer, University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria

This project was realised during my ERASMUS+ studies at University of Applied Arts Vienna (Winter 2018/19)



Special thanks to the ceramics studio of the University of Applied Arts Vienna and Sandra Gigerl, who took great part in making this project possible; Transmedialer Raum at Academy of Media Arts Cologne and Anne Hölck, curator of MEINBLAU Projektraum, Berlin.


References
1 Chaffers, William. 1876. Marks and monograms on pottery & porcelain of the renaissance and modern periods. Bickers & son. 885f.
2 My translation of: Lasst uns über Tiere sprechen!, GLS Bankspiegel Mai 2018, Online abrufbar: https://blog.gls.de/bankspiegel/ lasst-uns-ueber-tiere-sprechen/3 Organic farming does not nessesarily mean better treatment and conditions of the animals. This can be seen in documentaries like “Dominion” (Australia) as well as in undercover footage released by activists. In the European union “organic” is defined by the Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 of 28 June 2007 on organic production and labelling of organic products and repealing Regulation: 
https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32007R0834&from=DE Here, not even free-range husbandry is a nessesity
4 Watson, Burton. 2013. The Complete works of Zhuangzi. Translations from the Asian classics. New York: Columbia University Press. 31-32. (内篇, 人间世 Inner Chapters, book IV, part VI)
︎Website of the documentary “Dominion”: https://www.dominionmovement.com/


Mark