When Mediamatic asked me to collaborate on an art project dealing with pee (yes, pee, you got it) my reaction was not overly enthusiastic, as you can imagine.
I’ll admit, I considered myself part of majority of the population that considered pee a kind of social taboo. That kind of thing we talk about only when it’s absolutely necessary: at the doctor, out of the pub after a few beers or with a child learning how to use the potty.
Well, it was about time to leave this sad and barren prospect behind!
Urine is a fundamental part of our lives.
And I’m going to tell you more: it is one of the few constants in our lives that go beyond ethnic, culture, gender or age.
It was unbelievable discovering how many stories are effectively connected to the world of pee.
Yellow, essential and arrogant. Exploited by the most controversial artists of history (Duchamp, Warhol, Serrano among all), provocative and revolutionary.
Aware of the delicate topic that I had to deal with and of the ambitious project that Mediamatic had in mind, I started to work on Pure Gold, the brand new video-audio installation presented at Mediamatic’s official opening in mid-September.
We invited Kamiel Rongen, a young artist quite known in Amsterdam for his visual creation, to collaborate on this project with us. Kamiel films the fascinating chemical processes that are generated by mixing glazes and oily substances in a fishbowl. His videos show a colorful and surreal microcosm from live subjects taken directly from the natural world.
Alright, that’s enough talk. His videos are best understood and appreciated by WATCHING them:
The most fascinating aspect is the authenticity of his creative process.
As hard as is may be to believe, the videos are absolutely genuine. There is no digital manipulation and no post-production involved. Everything you see is real.
For this installation Kamiel mixed the spontaneous beauty of his creations with the main concept of the project, pee. Literally, the artist used his frozen pee. The experiment turned out to be quite surprising. As the ice, melts, a whirlwind of bubbles is created, which mingles with a repertoire of other substances.
The result is a powerful video installation, set up on Mediamatic’s large facade. The five windows act as frames to five rear projection screens that host the videos and their fluctuating chemical reactions.
The video corresponds to the five urinals that are aiming to collect urine for the fertilization of plants. The installation becomes interactive in that as the visitor is peeing, pictures and sounds surround them. The sound, emanating from vibrating speakers, uses the windows as a sound vehicle.
That’s the cycle of life: the windows show us a psychedelic and lush nature, the same that will emerge from the cultivated plants, a direct result of the contributions made by visitors who will interact with the installation.
PURE GOLD is open 24/7 at Mediamatic.
You can find more information on the official website, where some of my colleagues have written other interesting articles on this subject.
(For example, did you know that the AfroReggae festival in Rio uses pee for energy? Or that at the Schiphol Airport has solved the problem of aiming into the bowl by drawing flies on the bottom of the urinals?).
Hey, I’m warning you: once you have entered this strange universe, it takes only a moment to get addicted. You can then harass your friends with these strange curiosities, as I already do.