Recycle a Bicycle Because Bike Parts Will Save Humanity

by Glenn Reeves on September 23, 2012

We can walk along a path that leads to the extinction of humanity
OR
We can walk along a path the leads to the evolution of humanity.

I really don’t like these either/or setups, myself especially arty ones. You’re the goose waddling into the dreamland the artist set up for you. But you can’t help yourself. Off you go anyway.

That’s why we love art, which includes bike art . Many would agree,though, that the bike is art, period and be done with it. Some, however, take the subject a wee bit further.

Carolina Fontoura Alzaga, for example, who, in this video (it’s at the end of the post),  looks for bikes that have been callously discarded in the trash. She then even more callously 🙂 harvests their parts to create chandeliers.

bike chain chandelier

Caroline is mainly after the chains which dangle down like a butchered beastie’s intestines on the finished piece.

There’s a bit of green machine politics behind all this but here are some details.

Caroline hand-crafts her chandeliers and maintains the importance of using “materials that are already here.”

“Something that had an original function does not necessarily have to have that same function when you can transcend that function.”

I’m sure many designers would not find a lot to disagree with there. That’s the art; here come the (green) politics.

“It’s the only earth we’ve got. We’ve got a responsibility to be conscientious,” she points out.

For Caroline, the chandelier is a “symbol of wealth … opulence, power and influence” that is racing humanity towards extinction by destroying the earth.

Bicycle parts to the rescue!

Bike parts are the “discarded, invisible, the disposable” ie. they symbolize the majority of people who are not rich and powerful. Rescuing them from a trash heap that’s continually increasing in size will save the day.

It amounts to the underclass giving the finger to the people who are really in charge and do all the damage.

Now this is all the sort of subject that a certain bike snob  touched on in a roundabout way. In this post he talks about a”creative class” of professionals like scientists, architects, accountants and, whadyaknow, artists! that make a city a funky place to live.

In other words what is going on with humanity is a bit more complex than either/or.

These are the folk who consume their expensive bikes and dabble in bike culture. Hell, we’re all consumers. And I think increasingly savvy consumers.

This bike-parts-to-chandeliers idea is simply based on a wobbly assumption. I’ll sum it up with two questions. Carolina’s answer to the first one is yes and the second one no, by the way. But I’d say, not so fast. They really need to be asked, not assumed.

  • Is it true that most people think that when you take your trash out that it just disappears?
  • Do you think about where your trash is going?

More and more the answers are no the the first and yes to the second. The tricky part these days is getting everyone on the same page regarding what do do about it. And of course one thing many people are doing in increasing numbers is getting on bikes.

Finally, despite this post’s simpering tone, Caroline’s project may well be a way to get more people heading in this direction. I actually think what she’s doing is pretty cool.

I guess that I’m just gettin’ old. Once these sorts of ideas and their politics got me fired up. Now I tend to sit back and take a more measured view of things.

Still you’d need a few of those chandeliers hanging in The Donald’s offices or Mayor Bloomberg’s probably for anything substantial to come out of this.

Recycled Bicycle Chandeliers

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