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Adam Bialek

Bio-Mythological, Myth-Making, Spiritual Practices, Ancestral Knowledge, Sculpture


Our Beloved and Sacred Sun: Sunlight Monolith

Sunlight Monolith 01, Adam Bialek. 2023. Egg-yolk & Starch biopolymer, 1600 mm x 750 mm x 130 mm.

The project decodes the protocols behind the ancestral rituals of sun worship religions and solar art and translates them into contemporary objects of Solar Worship.

Analyzing solar rituals, art, and architecture through the context of the modern day, the research deconstructs sun worship as our attempts to map and display our dependence on the sun. It recognizes many recurring motifs as our pursuit to capture, explain, predict, and celebrate the patterns of the sun's movement and the seasonal distribution of solar energy throughout ecological time.

Perhaps one of the most prevalent, universal motifs connected and intricately intertwined with the sun is the concept of the Cosmic Egg — the mythological golden womb in the sky which is the source of all life, and which is apparent in the creation myths of many cultures, such as the Babylonian, Ancient Egyptian, and Orphic traditions. This motif emphasizes the ancient recognition of the sun's importance.

Reflecting upon the allegory of the Sun as a Cosmic Egg present in many sun worships, and considering egg yolk as the closest physical manifestation of the sun, moving beyond just a philosophical frame of mind, and using conscious design language in the context of the modern day, helps us imagine a poetic biomaterial based around egg yolk, and materialize it in an object. This process accomplishes this by slowly petrifying and crystallizing egg yolk emulsion to produce a biopolymer with a unique light-filtering quality, which brings out and intensifies the expression of natural light.

However, choosing to use such a precious resource as egg yolk — a "living material" which is "produced" by other living beings and needs to be taken care of and treated with respect — forces us to reconsider the value of resources and their corresponding impact. This impact includes not only the passive influence on ourselves but also on the environment around us, starting with sourcing eggs locally, ethically, and with due respect.

Consequently, using a living ingredient and essentially killing it for our anthropocentric need for objects is contradictory. To process such a resource into an object requires us to not only be respectful of it and where it came from but also to consider the afterlife of the object. To further allude to our visceral and circular connections with the source of life, the material is designed to fully biodegrade — fertilizing its final resting place and returning life to the earth.

"Sunlight Monolith" is the current culmination of the research: a living biomaterial carved into a monolithic form and engraved with superimposed contemporary motifs mapping the solar movements — based on the data courtesy of NASA and SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory). When touched by sunlight, the monolith illuminates with an amber glow, creating ephemeral moments of light, assuming the role of an ancient/contemporary symbiotic altar to our Sun, and becoming a bio-mythological artifact of the Anthropocene.

Our Beloved and Sacred Sun: Solar Idols

Solar Idols, Adam Bialek, 2022. Egg-yolk, Collagen biopolymer, Electronic & light components. 360 mm x 260 mm x 80 mm.

"Solar Idols" is another iteration of the research. It is a study tracing and documenting many Sun Personifications and Solar Deities, going back to the numerous "solar-headed" petroglyphs. "Our Beloved and Sacred Sun" becomes a light sculpture of a contemporary Solar Analemma Idol; a tablet depicting an anthropomorphized solar figure, taking shape in a symbiotic object — an artifact from an unknown place and time, yet radiating light and warmth that is oddly familiar, positive, and comforting.

Offerings of Soil, Offerings of Mud

Offerings of Soil, Offerings of Mud - Altar Table 01, Adam Bialek, 2023. Soil, Wheat protein-based biopolymer, 950 mm x 950 mm x 330 mm.

Reflecting upon vernacular and ancestral construction techniques, such as rammed earth and mudbricks, provides insights that can be harnessed using conscious design language. By reimagining these techniques in the context of the modern day, the use of biomaterials comes to mind: Combining biopolymer based on wheat grain proteins with locally sourced soil and applying it to a structure built out of locally discarded materials reduces our environmental impact and aligns us with principles of i.e. circular economy. By implementing such a methodology that sees sustainability as a philosophy, akin to a contemporary nomadic hunter-gatherer, each site-specific object created with such mentality, technique, and materials assumes the role of a symbolic altar to the earth.

Consequently, decorating the altars with a relief motif of Humbaba, the oldest known personified deity of natural power itself, symbolically resurrects the spirit of the earth and invokes our primal feelings, deepening our connections with the soil and the ground.

"Offerings of Soil, Offerings of Mud: Altar Table 01" is a fully biodegradable biopolymer mixed with locally sourced soil, applied on repurposed cardboard, shaped into an Altar that can, and should, eventually be returned to the earth from which it was taken, where it will fully decompose—its biomaterial components enriching the ground and becoming an offering to the soil itself.

The materials for the “Altar Table 01” have been sourced in 2023 from a wilderness site outside of Warsaw, PL at 52.00215°N, 21.118711°E, where nature is "pushed back" and "civilization" can expand.

The images are excerpts from the 3D scan of the object, documenting the process of biodegradation.

Artist Interview

Q: In this new edition of the UAAD online magazine, we're exploring the theme of "[Matrix] of the [Not-Yet]." How would you interpret these two words, and how do you see your work aligning with the concepts of [Matrix] and [Not-Yet]?

I see it as a Liminal Plane of Possibilities — where the said Possibility refers to the Speculative Scenarios of the Future (and by extension, using non-linear thinking; Alternative Scenarios for the Present and Past). This Matrix, this Plane, all of the "Possibilities," all of the "Not-Yet's" could, of course, exist in a void as mere thought experiments, but they also could (and in my opinion, should) be somehow grounded in reality.

Each project is akin to a structure; let's say a building. This building needs a foundation — four pillars, each grounded in a plateau: Ecological, Cultural, Social, and Political. Each plateau may appear as a separate entity, but it is just a matter of perspective, a matter of our point of view from the structure we are currently occupying. In reality, they merge and flow into each other, creating a liminal multi-planar matrix. Our ability to see how deep and how far they influence each other is also limited to the current structures we occupy, and thus we need to exercise non-linear dimensional thinking — adding the Past, Present, Future, and Possible to the equation to create (or rather, perceive the existing) multi-planar trans-dimensional matrix [of foundations]. Only then can we start constructing new structures and demolishing the old ones?

Q: We are very interested in the trajectory of your creative practices and their connection to the theme. Could you provide us with a little more information about your background?

In the last few years, I have been working all over Europe at various art and design studios. Recently, I came back from a sabbatical break and graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven, and right now I am working freelance on multiple "slow-cooking" design projects based on sustainability and ecology. However, my autonomous, core research project is based on the Sun — considering solar energy as a hyper object—and analyzing its influence on the biological, ecological, cultural, historical, social, political, and technological realities.

Q: The creators participating in this magazine work across various mediums, including moving images, interactive installations, music composition, etc. What factors influence your choice of medium for your works?

Ironically enough, I am rather anti-digital. I need my surroundings to be physical, real, changing, organic, living, dying, beautiful, meaningful, to be touched, to be seen. That’s why I craft contemporary artifacts with biomaterials and biopolymers.

Q: How does your work reflect or actively engage with the cultural and social dynamics of your community or the communities you interact with? Are there elements in your art that seek to bridge, disrupt, or transform these dynamics?

I engage with different types of communities. Acting locally to impact the global, I aim to exist in a non-human-centric equilibrium, and I create for socio-cultural groups with similar goals. Together, we contribute to an emerging ecofeministic global tribe.

Q: What real-world strategies or methodologies do you employ in your art practice to manifest your visions of the future? How do these tactics serve as forms of resistance or intervention within the current socio-political landscape?

I look at existing living systems and processes to reflect on our man-made, artificial systems, processes, structures, objects, and rituals. Can we use a metabolic process like fermentation, and what can we learn from it on a social, cultural, or political plateau? Or how about a mycelium network? Even learning how to be a part of a living system, a rhizomatic living community, abolishing arborescent structures of power, is a form of resistance.

Q: How do you hope your work impacts its viewers or participants, particularly in terms of rethinking potential futures or alternate realities? Who do you perceive as your audience?

My work is proof that other realities are possible, and other possibilities are real. They are artifacts of the Anthropocene, however, created from an outside, almost mythological perspective, using symbolic and metaphorical language intertwined with ecology and biology, and promising a different, kinder, more aware, and conscious world. I can only hope to inspire others, make them see a different perspective, and start a discussion, to learn their perspective.

Q: As a creator, what do you see as the threats or uncertainties we will face in the coming decade?

Same as it ever was. The [wrong] people in positions of power, doing everything to stay in power.

Q: What motivates you to continue creating as an artist?

I have to do what I have to do.

Q: Are there any theories, books, or artists you would like to recommend in your current areas of interest?

I have recently re-read “A Thousand Plateaus” by Deleuze and Guattari and picked up some new thoughts, so I would recommend it again. Currently, I am reading “God, Human, Animal, Machine: Technology, Metaphor, and the Search for Meaning” by Meghan O'Gieblyn. I haven't finished it yet, but it’s great so far.

Q: If you could possess a superpower, what would it be?


About the Artist

Adam Bialek is a young designer, researcher, visual artist, and an alumni of Design Academy Eindhoven. In his work, he blends socio-cultural anthropology and environmental philosophy, implementing multidisciplinary and site-specific research techniques ranging from studies of classical antiquity to field investigations of regional agriculture. Deconstructing and examining the shifting boundaries between what is the biological, the ecological, the cultural, and the political, his research draws parallels with local, vernacular, and historical sources such as mythology, folklore, cuisine, and heritage — to guide us toward a 21st-century understanding and produce tools of social and environmental change. Thanks to this approach, he conceives allegorical concepts and stories, and synthesizes them, creating bio-mythological artifacts of the Anthropocene.

©2024 Underground Art And Design LLC | ISSN 2835-284X

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