visual & interaction designer, artist, writer, and educator
Soil is almost completely absent from our current cultural imaginary and rarely considered in its complexity. Instead, it’s a metonym for Mother Earth, something to smear on yourself in a hippie ritual. We imagine ourselves as techno-autonomous beings residing in a real world that is merely a projection of an electronic matrix. As an artistic medium, soil is often used decoratively or treated as a readymade – a found material that represents the ‘natural world’. But soil doesn’t make a distinction between natural and unnatural matter. The detritus of contemporary human life – our phones, clothes, Styrofoam – are not the opposite of soil but its future components, just like the soil in the ancient Agora of Athens features fragments of urns, or the soil of Teufelsberg near Berlin is comprised of charred wreckage from World War II. Right now, cities are unwittingly making new soil types, known as technosoils, in which these anthropogenic components are present.
Asad Raza on Sculpting with Soil