Engaging in a detailed way with industrial manufacturing means immersing oneself in a world of language, techniques and processes that are at times utterly surprising.
The products produced in the factory today have ranged from a very high end car manufacturers automotive part to an electrical widget that will no doubt be installed into the homes of millions of domestic customers.
It’s a fascinating and elaborate mix. Some of the items are assembled out of component parts sourced from all over the UK whereas others are stand-alone in nature. From wood rollers to cardboard boxes via high-end, micro-engineered, jigs. Environments such as these, running 24 hour production lines, are busy complex places that require a vast array of human skills to succeed. Inextricably linked to these ‘banks’ of human expertise are a series of tools, or large-scale machines, some of which are computerised, all of which are highly engineered. Problem solving is a continual process, people are responding to quality control issues whilst others are amending, altering and adjusting.
…some of the most extraordinary objects I’ve encountered so far are perhaps unexpected. They are globular pieces of ‘purge’:
The product of a changeover process between colours or materials. Created when the old colour is forced through the machine by the new one at the start of a new production run.
It’s a waste product essentially, and in the case of MGS, it’s discarded from their production line and dispatched to an external recycler rather than ground-up onsite for reuse.
It’s a visually absorbing object to behold and bears all the hall-marks of being fluid (as it is in it’s ‘hot’ state) whilst being absolutely rigid once cold. It’s organic in form and yet seems like the antithesis of the highly engineered parts it contributes towards creating.
It leads me to consider the derivation of the word:
Latin / PURUS (pure)
Latin / PURGARE (purify)
Old French / PURGIER (medicine) to purge (to eliminate from the body)
Middle English / PURGE (clear oneself of a charge)
Exciting new art will roll off the production lines of British factories this spring as nine artists negotiate heavy machinery, industrial production techniques and up to 160 years of making heritage in Art In Manufacturing. Combining nine artists with the expertise and history of traditional and contemporary British manufacturers, the ground-breaking series of residencies will engage hundreds, if not thousands of workers to develop challenging new ideas. The resulting artworks and performances will be revealed as part of The National Festival of Making, taking place on Sat 6 – Sun 7 May 2017 in Blackburn, Lancashire.