This Is Urine
'This is Urine' is a project that explores the value of urine.
Uncovering urines potential new role within society. Unlike the common belief shared in modern society, urine has been widely used for many purposes in pre-industrial society, such as planting, cleansing, therapeutic medicine, whitening teeth and tanning leather. Due to changes in technology and lifestyle, our perception of urine has been changed negatively. However, urine contains valuable components, such as water, ammonia, urea, and minerals. There are researchers in various fields, such as Bill Gates or NASA, that are looking into human urine as a source that can be turned into drinking water or biofuel. For them, human urine is a promising material for the future, as it is a readily available resource produced in vast amounts by a rapidly growing population.
The artist behind this work investigates the potential of the inorganic components in urine minerals as an alternative resource to glaze in the ceramic industry, which normally uses metal oxide glazes that have the potential to cause metal poisoning. Her first work was presented as a ceramic collection called Urine Ware, which featured a series of vessels inspired by the shape of the human bladder and laboratory flasks. She is currently developing a range of tiles, with stunning colour palettes of soft pinks and pale nudes that strongly challenge our concept of urine.
To create the items, Kim collected and recorded 280 litres of human urine from five people over a period of five months. This was then distilled through evaporation, which resulted in a residual paste in a dark orange-brown colour. Minerals in urine can play the same role as glaze or clay since they have common minerals such as Iron, Calcium, Sodium, Potassium and Magnesium.
The designer crafted vessels out of clay and coated them in the urine residue, which reduces the melting point of the silica in the clay. When heated, the silica merges with the minerals in the urine, creating a glossy coating.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
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Accessible to visitors of the Future Materials Lab