• Photo: Eric & Petra Hesmerg

  • Photo: Eric & Petra Hesmerg

The Obsidian Project

In The Obsidian Project,DRIFT examines both artistically as well as poetically, humans’ own ethical responsibility in dealing with chemical waste: a poignant increasing threat in today’s vulnerable world.  




The basis of The Obsidian Project lies in twelfth-century philosophy. During this period, Europe began to expand its knowledge of alchemy in a quest for the Philosopher’s Stone. Using ancient alchemical methods, DRIFT is working with a 21st century chemist who discovered a process of extracting gold and other precious raw materials from chemical waste. The Obsidian Project provides a solution for processing initially considered intractable chemical residual material. The material that is obtained by this process of heating, is synthetic obsidian: a 100% clean tested material with very specific properties. The material feels cold but shows a high capacity of absorption of light and heat. Moreover, it turns out that obsidian is highly paramagnetic. With the discovery of this technique, we seem to have found a solution to the major contemporary chemical problem. 

In The Obsidian Project, DRIFT is specifically investigating the typical light absorption of obsidian. Its light absorption transforms the reflected environment into a spectacle that relaxes the eyes. In the 17th century, artists turned to this semi-precious stone when focusing at length on the still lives they were painting. Now, four centuries later, DRIFT is again exploring these specific qualities of synthetic obsidian in a series of mirrors. Each mirror will focus on one unique material or symbolic property. The mirror itself symbolises the convergence of technology, artistic thinking and the responsibilities held in the world as human beings. When looking at the polished jet-black surface of the mirror, a person sees its own face reflected in the obsidian. Our effigy is formed in an art object created from our own chemical waste. An art object reflecting people’s effigy created from their own chemical waste.

Revaluation was shown at the Wallpaper* Handmade exhibition during Milan Design Week 2014 (IT), The Obsidian Project was part of the exhibition Dream Out Loud at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam 2016-2017(NL), and exhibit at van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (NL), amongst others. 


Photo courtesy of DRIFT
Photo courtesy of DRIFT
Photo: Jaap Scheeren

Video courtesy of DRIFT