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Swords into Plowshares: Peaceful Weapon Recycling

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And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. -Isaiah 2:4

The familiar Bible verse is repeated in the book of Micah. There are those who are doing just that, whether they draw inspiration from Isaiah or simply from a desire for peace and a safer world. Here are eight projects that make deadly weapons into something to inspire that desire in all of us.

1. Shovels from Guns

Artist Pedro Reyes collected 1,527 guns from the citizens of Culiacán, Mexico by offering coupons for appliances and electronics in exchange. He used the weapons for a project called Palas por Pistolas, in which Reyes had the guns melted down and recast into 1,527 shovel heads to be used to plant 1,527 trees all over the community. Culiacán, which has a high rate of gunshot deaths, also has a botanical garden that commissions artists for community enrichment projects.

2. Furniture from Mines

Naissaar Island in the Gulf of Finland had a large factory that produced marine mines for the Soviet Army. The explosives were burned when the Soviets left the island, leaving thousands of casings behind. Estonian sculptor Mati Karmin has used scrap metal as an art media for a large part of his career. He uses those marine mine casings to create furniture and other useful objects, like light fixtures, bathtubs, and fireplaces -Karmin even made a fully functioning toilet from a mine casing!

3. Reliquaries by Al Farrow

British artist Al Farrow uses guns, bullets, and other military items to construct religious buildings in miniature: churches, synagogues, and mosques, as well as full size religious items and symbols, such as reliquaries and menorahs. The art is a statement about the role of religion in war and other atrocities.

4. Throne of Weapons

The 15-year civil war in Mozambique ended in 1992. By then almost a million people had died as a direct result of violence, with millions more maimed, displaced, or starved. Weapons had been shipped to warring factions from countries all over the world. In 1995, the Christian Council of Mozambique set up a program called “Transforming Arms into Tools” to turn some of those weapons into art as a memorial and a reminder of the horrors of war. One of the sculptures is the Throne of Weapons by artist Cristovao Canhavato consisting of guns originating in seven different countries. Image by Flickr user rvacapinta.

5. Vest of Bullets

Ross Rodriguez works in 2-dimensional art: photography, drawing, and printmaking. But he stepped into 3D territory in 2005 when he created the work Bullet Proof Vest from 30-caliber rifle shells.

6. Memorial Sculpture

The Peace Art Project Cambodia was launched in Phnom Penh in 2003 to gather weapons from thirty years of war and turn them into works of art. The project was founded by artist Sasha Constable and small weapons specialist Neil Wilford, both British citizens. Students used scrap metal and recovered weapons to create everything from small sculptures to furniture to large monuments.

7. The Gun Sculpture

In 2001, artists Wallis Kendal and Sandra Bromley took 7,000 guns of all kinds, from small handguns to rocket launchers, and fused them into a monolith called The Gun Sculpture. The purpose of the piece is to encourage discussions about violence. The artwork has toured all over, most recently as an installation at the United Nations complex in Vienna, Austria, where it was part of The Art of Peacekeeping exhibit last summer.

8. Megatons to Megawatts

In perhaps the most encouraging recycling program ever, the Megatons to Megawatts project pays Russia for weapons-grade uranium and turns it into fuel for commercial nuclear power plants in the US. So far, the program has eliminated the equivalent of 16,000 nuclear warheads! In addition, the Russian Federation receives an influx of cash they desperately need and fewer worries about nuclear disposal, while the US has downblended enough uranium into fuel to replace three years of crude oil imports. Image by Flickr user Mike_tn.

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Design
This Amazing Clock Has a Different Hand for Every Minute of the Day
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In the video below, you can watch Japanese ad agency Dentsu transform passing time into art. According to Adweek, the project was commissioned by Japanese stationery brand Hitotoki, which produces crafting materials. To celebrate the value of handmade items in an increasingly fast-paced world, Dentsu created a film advertisement for their client depicting their goods as a stop-motion clock.

The timepiece ticks off all 1440 minutes in the day, and was assembled in real-time against a colored backdrop during a single 24-hour take. Its "hands" were crafted from different combinations of some 30,000 disparate small items, including confetti, cream puffs, tiny toys, silk leaves, and sunglasses.

"In a world where everything is so hectic and efficient, we wanted to bring the value of 'handmade' to life," explains Dentsu art director Ryosuke Miyashita in a press statement quoted by Stash Media. "We created different combinations of small Hitotoki brand items to express each and every minute."

You can check out a promotional video for the project below, which details the arduous crafting process, or view a real-time version of the clock here.

[h/t Adweek]

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architecture
Take a Look at These Tiny, Futuristic Homes From the 1960s
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If you find yourself in Friche de l’Escalette, a sculpture park in Marseille, France, this year, you may feel like there’s been some kind of alien invasion among the industrial ruins scattered throughout the park. The institution’s latest exhibition, Utopie Plastic, features three retro-futuristic houses from the 1960s that look straight out of The Jetsons.

As Curbed reports, the prefabricated houses are stocked with mid-century plastic furniture like Quasar Khahn’s inflatable chair.

The rounded interior of a Futuro home with two experimental retro chairs inside.

The show includes one of the Futuro homes, spaceship-like tiny houses originally designed as ski chalets by architect Matti Suuronen. At the time, they cost only $12,000 to $14,000, and could be built on any terrain because of their stilt legs.

A Maison Bulle à Six Coques home lights up with a blue glow at night in the sculpture park.

You can also view Maison Bulle à Six Coques, a flower-shaped hut (its name means Six-Shell Bubble House) by French architect Jean Maneval. The prototype design was first introduced at an art fair in 1956, and went into production in 1968. It came in green, white, or brown, and later inspired an entire vacation village in the Pyrenees, where developers built 20 Bubble Houses.

A modular Hexacube house is lit up at twilight.

And then there’s Georges Candilis and Anja Blamsfeld's 1972 Hexacube design, a modular polyester and fiberglass hut that looked kind of like a giant Port-a-Potty. Multiple Hexacubes could be combined together to make a larger house, and they ushered in a new era of modular, expandable construction.

The era of plastic tiny houses like these came to an end during the 1970s, when the oil crisis in the U.S. made plastic prohibitively expensive—at least for people who were looking for prefab houses on the cheap.

The exhibit is open by appointment until October 1, 2017.

[h/t Curbed]

All images © C. Baraja, courtesy Friche de l’Escalette

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