The problem of rising housing costs has become a heavy pressure for many young people living in cities. With the advancement of urbanization, there will always seem to be conflicts between the city's own evolutionary logic (expansion and efficiency) and the needs of the individuals living in it.Faced with the contradictions and powerlessness of individuals living in the urban city, my ‘solution’ was a black humor: ‘build a house’ by ourself—make a ‘house building’ machine, which is actually a large stamp that can be used to splice house sketches.
During the exhibition, the audience can choose the puzzle board of their favorite house elements, make free combinations, install them on this device, and use this device to stamp out a "self-built house" of their own to take away. This "solution" is a non-practical humor, but I hope this simple and slightly absurd copying process can make stressful people smile and relax for a while.
Let's Build A House In Xiamen，The project documentary，11'48"，2017
I found an old artisan who has more than 30 years of experience in building self-built houses in Xiamen, and worked with him to complete this work. He accepted the interview with me, and helped me draw some sketches of the appearance of self-built houses that are common in local area.Then, I divided these style sketches and used wood and rubber to make puzzle boards according to these divided patterns. Then, we jointly built a device that can be reversed and stamped, and the completed puzzle boards could be installed on the flip board inside this device.
The artisan surname is Chen. The house he lives in now is designed by himself, and all the interior architecture was done by himself. During the interview, he was very excited every time when the topic turned to his house. The main part of this stamping device was completed in his woodworking studio, and the whole process lasted 3 weeks. During that period, I took many materials with camera and mobile. After the device was completed, these materials are organized into a documentary, which includes the entire project process from the first visit and interview, model research, sketching, production of installations, and the problems encountered in the middle, etc.
The mechanical movement principle of this device comes from the flip chapter: when raised, the seal plate faces up; when pressed down, the seal plate will reverse 360 degrees and press down. First, I made the model of the device using PVC board, and then used wood, industrial spring, stainless steel tube, acrylic board and other materials to enlarge the model to the same scale.
We spent a lot of effort in debugging the accuracy and ease of operation of the device, as shown below: In order to completely turn the printing plate in the device upside down and press the bottom plate, at least an adult’s weight needs to be added to the top, which will increase the difficulty of actual operation.
9 pattern boards can be bound to the flip seal plate each time, and each pattern corresponds to a part of the self-built house style such as windows, doors, roofs, etc. These patterns are all sketches drawn by Chen, and then carved on the rubber sheet by me. So these patterns are out of my personal aesthetics and can show the most common house styles in local area. The following images shows the steps of making pattern boards.
陈工匠正在画草图 Chen was drawing the sketches
When Chen drew the sketches, he took apart a cigarette case casually. Draw in the blank space on the back.
根据草图定设计稿 Split and copy the original sketch
将图案画在橡皮板上 Draw the patterns on rubber sheets
把图案雕刻出来 Carve out the patterns
给刻好的橡皮板安装木质卡槽 Install the rubber plates on the wooden bases
You can choose the pattern boards you like to combine, then put them into the printing plate inside the device, and your ‘house’will come out.
At last, I’d like to tell an interesting story during the process:
During the three weeks of making this "big seal" at Chen's wood studio, many curious villagers came to watch. Someone asked us what exactly were we making? Chen smiled triumphantly and mysteriously with a cigarette in his mouth, answered: ‘Money printing machine’.
At that moment, I remembered Camus’ words: ‘Don’t believe that things have deep meaning, this is the true nature of absurd man.’