Industrial Animism
Central Saint Martins School
London, UK

Material Futures

«I love plastic of any kind; I like the shape of pipes, tubes [...] this plastic tube, I like it very much in the artistic sense, in the art-world sense. It’s very unheroic, unmonumental. A plastic tube is not comical, it’s not strong enough to be comical, but it is never serious. Even the biggest piece of plastic pvc pipe won’t be serious. It will always be plastic tubing, it doesn’t lend itself to being phallic at the same time. You think it would become phallic, but it never does — or only in a silly way, and then it can be a little more humorous. So I like the passivity of it, the non-heroic side of it.»

Jimmie Durham - 2004

Fetishism in a post-industrial time

Industrial animists greatly consider the tactile and visual attraction of certain common products. This recognition and the misuse of objects lead to a sensorial worship and physical adoration.

Various common materials are crafted in representations of spirits or deified. Shrines akin composition, lustrous ceramics amulettes, faceted metal, are celebrating the shapes and rawness of the products. Plastic raincoats are worn and blown of air, in a singular or collective action, in the quest of connection with the elements (plastic, artificial wind...)

Healing rituals rely on the hacking of various mundane products. With ad-hocists montages of objects and technologies they share together of a sensorial communion with manufactured materials. Often practised as a physical energy sourcing, these gatherings can also be initiation rites.

Industrially made materials surround us and are witnesses of our mass production era.

Mass manufactured items could potentially become icons of our time. By taking them beyond their practical functionality, humans empower these objects with supernatural values, giving them the status of fetish. This super-appropriation could lead to various interactions : meaningful crafts, intimate relations, ritualistic actions. In other words give rise to the notion of Industrial animism.

Animism is the belief that natural physical entities possess a spiritual essence. It is a universal and timeless characteristic of humankind : a peculiar relation to surrounding materiality which humans developed at the origin in nature.

Even though our direct environment has shifted into a complete manufactured realm, this hard-wired human feature is resilient and will perpetuate. There are nowadays various manifestations of this animism, but often repressed or disguised in our fideist consumption.