Tadahhh! Here is the finished installation of our Solar Bottle Pixel Project on Parang Sumo beach, Java, Indonesia. We couldn’t have done it without the Gardu Action Team– they worked even while fasting for Ramadan! Matarnoan Budy Bamboo!

I am really proud of this co-creation. True, it’s a super simple concept, but underneath it manifests some core artistic philosophy that has literally taken a decade to arrive at.

First, its collaborative. There ain’t no solitary artist toiling away in a lonely studio here– a bunch of us made it and had fun! Second, it’s virtually zero waste and cost: only half an ecobrick in waste was created with a net cost of several dollars for the food colouring. The rest is 100% recyclable (the PET bottles) and 100% biodegradable (the bamboo and wood which we sourced locally). Third, the work is interactive– sure I made the first pixel design, but anyone can come up to it and change the pixel arrangement on their own.

Finally, the design is imminently copyable. It’s taken tons of work on my personal artistic trajectory to get here, but now that the idea is out there, and precisely because it uses nothing but local materials — it will get copied. Just like ecobricks, and other designs I have developed. As it gets replicated, the design and concept will get better and better… and Yeay! There will be a little more light and colour in the world. 🙂

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The story of its development goes way back.   Wayyyyy back in Northern Canada, I discovered the dazzling artistic potential of food colouring, water and glass bottles with fellow artist and partner Gabrielle Smith . Back in the Philippines, I used it with fellow gardener Junesay Bakala to build a luminous rainbow accent to our ecobrick food forest play park. Then in Baguio, with my cob builder friend Zelimir Strugar , we dreamed up using coloured bottles for a giant bamboo beach installation for a Reggae festival.

Zeli and I discussed the idea in depth, and I drew it all up. But, to my great frustration, the festival connection fell through and it never happened. The idea for the installation — the dream, it stayed with me though. Alas, I have never had the right combination of colleagues, beach, time and bottles to make it happen.

Until now!

This week Ani Himawati and I are working with a grassroots community group called GarduAction. They have reclaimed a dumpsite on the Parang Kusumo beach (near Jogja, Indonesia). They cleaned the entire dumpsite up and rebuilt it as a park using nothing but the “trash”. Its a super cool place for young people in the area to come hang out and learn about trash transformation, bottle technology and why the unique sand dune formations on this coast are worth saving. Ani and I get along great with the team. It’s the perfect place for the installation!

 

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