Material

Agar agar, Vegetable glycerine

By

Made in

Biodegradable 242 Bioplastic 80 Plant-based 176 Recyclable 123 Vegan 93 Agar agar 23 Iron oxide 3 Vegetable glycerine 3 Water 33

Agar agar, Vegetable glycerine
Agar agar, Vegetable glycerine
Agar agar, Vegetable glycerine
Agar agar, Vegetable glycerine
Agar agar, Vegetable glycerine
Agar agar, Vegetable glycerine
Agar agar, Vegetable glycerine
Agar agar, Vegetable glycerine
Agar agar, Vegetable glycerine
Agar agar, Vegetable glycerine
Agar agar, Vegetable glycerine
Agar agar, Vegetable glycerine

Photos: Lotta Bauer

Haut/Haut

The project Haut/Haut is an interactive, immersive installation that explores bioplastic made from agar as an alternative to synthetic plastics in an object-based context. It aims to experiment with the use of bioplastics on a larger scale to explore the limits of what is possible. Simultaneously, it speculates on adopting a more sensitive and harmonious approach to materials by recognising their origins.

This project emerged from observing and reflecting on our everyday consumption of plastic and our relationship with the materials that constantly surround us. Petrochemically produced materials are often described with adjectives such as cold, indestructible, or lifeless, reflecting their ecological impact and the legacy of microplastics they leave on the planet. Haut/Haut envisions a reality where we feel positively connected to materials in a sensitive and empathetic manner. This leads to the exploration of materials that allow for these feelings and harmonise with both humans and nature. Given the ecological considerations, a shift towards a different type of materials - more sustainable ones - is necessary. Bioplastic made from agar represents one of these sustainable alternatives. Unlike chemically produced materials, agar-based bioplastic is derived from plants, is biodegradable, and therefore perishable, fostering a closer connection to living entities than synthetically produced materials.
The material's properties and appearance further contribute to its association with liveliness. Agar plastic's resemblance to skin, with its potential to be thin and flexible or thick and firm, and its texture, which can range from smooth or rough to oily or very soft, enhances the tactile experience. This similarity makes touching the material akin to touching human skin, one of the most emotional and intense forms of human interaction. Thus, a sensitive and intimate contact between human and material is established, allowing the material to be perceived in a completely new and unfamiliar way.

To facilitate interaction between visitors and the material, a two-meter-long walk-in object was constructed from thick and stable wire. This object, entirely covered with agar-based bioplastic and constituting a speculative organism, invites visitors to enter by crawling from one side. Inside, the material can be explored primarily through touch. Touching specific areas controls an interactive sound experience, transforming the act of touching into a dialogue.
Through this approach, Haut/Haut offers a unique and emotional experience that challenges our relationship with plastic and other everyday materials. It plays with the possibility of an almost symbiotic and empathetic relationship with materials that originate from living organisms, encouraging a reevaluation of our material choices and their impact on the world.

Making process

Agar-based bioplastic is created by mixing agar, glycerine and water in the desired ratio and stirring until no lumps remain. The mixture is then heated while continuing to stir until it almost boils. Pigments, colours, threads or other materials can optionally be added.
Once the mixture thickens, it is removed from the heat and poured into a coated mould. The mould can also be prepared in advance with other materials that will influence the appearance or texture of the plastic. The mass solidifies as it cools to approximately 45°C. The drying process following this can take several days, depending on the thickness of the material. It is important to ensure that the water evaporates from the compound within the first few days to prevent mould formation. This can be prevented by adding potassium sorbate or by speeding up the drying process, for example, by placing it in the sun, oven, or dehydrator. This bioplastic made from agar is thermoplastic, which means that after drying, it can be dissolved again in hot water at around 90°C within at least one hour, depending on the thickness. Once the dissolved mixture has evaporated some water, it can be reused.

Text submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank. For information about reproducing (a part of) this text, please contact the maker.

Ingredients

agar agar, Vegetable glycerine, water, iron oxide

Credits

Sound: Theo Voerste