The Obsidian Project: Revaluation

Made by: Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta Materials: synthetic obsidian
With this new work we took a seemingly alchemical response to the world’s excessive chemical waste problem, highlighting a dialogue between its global increasing threat and its solution.

Since 2007, Studio Drift's focus has been to create a dialogue between nature and technology, creating awareness of how these two apparent opposites can work together. With the Obsidian project we are marking a new direction in our work, mirrors made of highly polished and reflective black, organically formed synthetic obsidian. In this project Studio Drift examines their ethical responsibility in dealing with (their own) chemical e-waste.

Vulcano’s are the natural recycle mechanisms of our world. Ralph and Lonneke discovered an ingenious process of waste management, in which the characteristics of a volcano are simulated in an industrial oven. This highly alchemical recyclingbiomimicy process, developed by a professor in chemistry working on it from 1972, extracts raw materials from chemical waste with 0% emissions.

This method is the world’s most safe and clean way of processing all chemical waste. The leftover product after 100% recycling and extracting all the gold and other rare metals is ‘synthetic obsidian’; a new stable material with very specific characteristics.
The Obsidian Project is a research project to discover and use the singular properties of synthetic obsidian to promote this revolutinairy wast recycling proces . The material is deep black, it feels cold, but shows a high capacity of absorption of light and heat. Moreover, it turns out that synthetic obsidian is highly paramagnetic and almost relates to dark matter. It is the opposite of light.
“One of the weirdest discoveries that we’ve made was that the material sounded like metal, looked like glass and felt like stone.” The first result in this research is a sculpture with reflective qualities.  The Aztecs used natural obsidian to make mirrors and they believed that these black mirrors were the gateway to the spiritual world. As now our spirit reflects in our own chemical waste.
The potential that chemical waste can be transformed into an artwork is a continuous development. The long process of research into the production and processing of the obsidian is considered to be groundbreaking. Studio Drift would like to continue this study and further investigate how this difficult process and ultra-hard material can be used.