For my Disobedient Objects project, given how short of a deadline it is to summative (three weeks), I wanted to explore disobedience in materiality. I was inspired by Adhockism from the first week task in this project of building a catapult and I enjoyed working with wood, so through this, I started to think about unorthodox materiality. This is when I started investigating materials that wouldn’t necessarily be used as materials within art practice. This train of thought led onto me discussing my initial ideas with my friend (and classmate) Heather, who introduced me into the world of sweets as materiality.
It started off with a packet of Haribo starmix and a packet of strawberry laces and baking parchment. And borrowing the department’s microwave in the kitchenette.
This was extremely fun to do, as I never knew what would result in what. It was also fascinating how different sweets – like the foam ones to the gummy ones – react differently to heat and what texture they created. Some looked amazing with light shone through it, whilst others not so much but still were interesting alone without light.
Another form of experimentation was melting gummy bears in the microwave, before putting another sheet of baking parchment on top to sink into the melted sweets. We gently pried the sheets apart and slowly pulled it down to create this shell form. Unfortunately, it did not remain it’s structural integrity and ended up looking like something else (we’ll come back to that later on).
Heather ended up bringing in fizzy cola bottles and providing me with more materiality exploration. The fizzy cola bottles had an interesting reaction to heat, but, their structural shape gave me another idea for my outcome in Disobedient Objects, where I may take it into a mould to mass produce with something else.
I found the fizzy cola bottles reaction to heat was that they seemed to create a thin, sugary sheet, that was almost transparent except they kept their colouration. I decided to play around with this and integrate different sweets to combine and see what would happen. I had fun ‘trapping’ strawberry laces inside melted fizzy cola bottles, which inspired another aspect of my concept for my outcome within this project. I am extremely pleased with Heather offering the fizzy cola bottles as a suggested material to experiment with.
Going back to the Haribo starmix, I picked out a small prototype of melted gummy bears and made a quick mock-up of a very wonky, wire-structured lamp to test out something I had in mind. I wanted to see how easy it would be to stretch the newfound material over the wire structure, and how much the gummy bears would retract or stick. I was pleased to discover the jelly sweet structures are very malleable and stretchy to begin with, but I also discovered that after a day or so after it was stretched over the wire, the melted material is not so malleable or sticky. It has solidified to an extent.
This series of investigation led onto the next exploration into other sweets and how they reacted to heat and how they could be integrated within my project design. I bought in sherbet lemons, midget gems and jelly beans whilst Heather (who by this point, was just helping me mass-produce prototypes for fun) bought in jelly babies and jelly snakes.
The jelly snakes (ft. what used to be the weird shell structure from above) when melted resulted in incredible colours and glass-blown appearance. The patterns they created when held up to light or had light shone through them was pretty cool, too. Also, you can see how transparent some parts of the gummy bear structure had become, after it collapsed from it’s original form.
I found this material suited the quick nature of my Disobedient Objects project, because the mass-production of prototypes is so quick and easy to do, that I feel like this is the material I want to work in.
The sherbet lemons reacted to heat a lot more differently than I thought they would, although, I am not sure what I was expecting them to react like in the microwave. But I found it fascinating how the sherbet remained in different parts and also was easy to ‘spin’ sugar.
The jelly beans when melted gave the effects of stained glass, and the colours are so vividly refrained when others colouration was simply melted away to sheer plastic appearance.
The jelly babies as can be seen in the photo, the second one within the row, resulted in the same sort of texture and stretchiness as the gummy bears did, however some of the sugar dusting and parts of its structure remained.
The midget gems personally, were my favourite when experimenting with different sweets to melt and stretch, and play around with in general. As you can see from the video, once it is removed from the heat in the microwave, it bubbles and melts from the inside out, but what really attracted my eye was how easy it was to create patterns with the different colours, because they merged together or kept their vivid colours. They’re also so textured and amazing to look at through light.