Sometimes, seeing really is believing. I once watched this television show about people struggling to lose weight. To help them visualize how poor food choices sabotaged their weight loss, the producers had each family lay out everything they ate in a typical day on the dining room table. Taken in all at once, it was easy to see just how much junk they were putting into their bodies.
An artistic group called We Make Carpets uses a twist on the same idea to help humans visualize the magnitude of other types of waste. Members Marcia Nolte, Stijn van der Vleuten and Bob Waardenburg use the everyday carpet as a foil for critical commentary on our obsession with consumption. They carefully weave together everyday objects, like plastic bottles, matches, and kitchen sponges, into colorful tapestries.
Humans have used carpets as a ground covering for centuries, but they weren’t always the cheap, machine made versions we know today. Owning a carpet hundreds of years ago demonstrated wealth and prestige, since they were made by hand and often took a long time to complete.
We Make Carpets are inspired by the color, shape and possibilities of the material chosen. Products that normally have no value once they have been used, such as plastic forks, paving tiles, pasta, cotton balls and pegs are arranged in an inventive way to form a graphic pattern. “The result is not just a decorative carpet,” write the artists, “but an object that makes us think about the consumer society that produces these ‘weaving materials’. A contemporary interpretation of wealth.”