At the Mattress Factory, Douenias and Frier Offer Pet Algae

THE DAILY PIC: Could an art installation feed and light us?


THE DAILY PIC (#1429): Living Things is the name of this nice piece of design-y art, or arty design, created by Jacob Douenias and Ethan Frier and now on view at the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh. It imagines a future where many of our energy and maybe nutritional needs could be met by little communities of Spirulina algae that would live symbiotically with us in our homes – for instance, in the  glass vessels that the artists have included as “lamps” in their piece.

Even as I was admiring the work, I was struck by a question: Why is it that all of these kinds of imaginings come dressed in the look of mid-century design. Is that the last time that our culture came up with a style that seemed suited to futurology? Or is it simply that, in order to sell their concept to us a painlessly as possible, Douenias and Frier realized they had to make its technology appeal to our senses – which at the moment just happen to be tuned (once again) to mid-century colors and forms. I’d like to think that these artists are so wedded to the content of their art that they’d be willing to dress it up in any form that makes it palatable.

A doctor prescribing a bitter pill shouldn’t care whether it’s being taken with sugar or honey or maple syrup.

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