Shutter Hub member Sigrid Schmeisser is a multi-disciplinary designer from Austria. She has worked in the UK, the Netherlands, Austria and internationally, within the cultural and arts as well as the academic sector (Peak15). A strong research and conceptual approach underpins her work, which varies from editorial design, identities, exhibition and digital design projects for commercial clients. Her photography work has been exhibited in the UK and Netherlands. Within her own self-directed work, she is focusing on a long-term project ‘Archives of Humankind’ which aims to explore the relationship with our past possessions, their connotations and stories.
Past Pleasures explores the relationship with our previous possessions, their meaning and decay from a future archaeological viewpoint. Rather than shipped abroad to be discarded or land-filled out of view, these objects were encountered close to home in a junkyard and second-hand shop on the outskirts of Edinburgh, at ‘Samuel Burns’. Back in 1947, Burns became known as a firewood company disposing of old furniture, turning into a clearance company in the years to follow. Burn’s son, current owner and heir of the family business, still resides onsite between two sharply divided worlds: One consisting of 3 sheds brimming with goods waiting for a second chance – while the other exists outside these protective borders, where nature slowly takes part of the neglected and unwanted back.
As these past pleasures are excruciatingly decaying, they become not only symbols of designed obsolescence and fleeting tastes, but question an economy dependent on rapid consumption. Until they have resolved and merged with the ground, our immediate entanglement in these histories and social constructs remains in sight.
The ongoing series has been framed as a find in a 2233 digital archaeological archive, which allows the viewer to ‘look back at today’ and ask themselves why we value(d) certain objects over others and what, if any, personal connotations might these objects have carried. Could one trace the stories behind them, track their owners? Will we mine what’s left of them as new resource frontiers in 2233, when today’s waste dumps are searched of locked-in material value (estimated at 55 Billion Euros for electronics alone); or will they merely remain fossils of a different world we once occupied?
Past Pleasures might continue in other locations, as the engraving of the box with the Nr. 1 implies. As part of the overarching research/photography/design project ‘Archives of Humankind’, the body of work will continue to grow to the bigger topic of resource extraction, the discarding of objects and re-mining them for their locked-in valuables in the future.
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