From Below

‘Homo faber is the man of surfaces, his mind is fixed on a few familiar objects, on a few crude geometric forms. For him the sphere has no center, it is simply the objective counterpart of the rounding gesture he makes with his cupped hands. Unlike him the dreaming man seated before his fireplace is the man concerned with inner depths, a man in the process of development.’

* Gaston Bachelard

 

In the beginning there was coal, which Anton Zielinski mined in 1912 in Marl, Germany. One hundred years later his great-grandson Philipp Weber visited the mine in which he worked. What Philipp encountered was not merely his historical roots in the northern Ruhrarea, he understood the fossil material known as bituminous coal to be an inspiration; a message to dive deeper into the matter of this subject. Heavy industry extracts coke from bituminous coal during a complex and technical procedure. Together with iron ore, coke is then reprocessed to iron sinter. Iron sinter in turn serves as the basis to produce iron. This again represents the raw material for steel production.

In previous creative endeavours manufacturing processes have often inspired Philipp’s work. In this case his inspiration came from the production of coke, which is performed behind industrial curtains on a large scale.
When coal is processed into coke in so-called ‘coking plants’, it is operated at temperatures of over 1000 degrees celsius and under exclusion of oxygen. Philipp’s research revealed that during this procedure the coal does not burn, but loses its volatile contents. What remains, is almost pure carbon.
In ‘From Below’ Philipp wanted to deconstruct this process and and implement his encounters in a manually, in a crafted manner. During initial drafts he started with a plan for his own miniature coking plant. An oven which works with a ceramic kiln was the basis. In the center and in the core of the oven Philipp installed a distillation container. It contains the coal, protects it from oxygen and thus keeps it from burning. Two mouth-blown glass flasks collect tar and other liquids that emerge during the distillation process. A large copper tank filled with water serves as the cooling element. Gases, that do not liquify, are channeled out through copper pipes and are burned upon emission.

Since the material has never been shaped before, Philipp decided for five basic geometrical shapes to explore and understand its plastic behavior in different molding conditions.



Philipp Weber: From Below Philipp Weber: From Below Philipp Weber: From Below Philipp Weber: From Below Philipp Weber: From Below Philipp Weber: From Below Philipp Weber: From Below Philipp Weber: From Below Philipp Weber: From Below Philipp Weber: From Below Philipp Weber: From Below Philipp Weber: From Below Philipp Weber: From Below

Credits

Text: Raimund Maria Josef
Audio Voice: Jakob Tögel

Filming: Martin Mostert
Soundtrack: Johannes Arolt

Concept & Photography: Philipp Weber

Made possible by: M.A. Programme UDK Berlin

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