The Sceptical Structures of Max: 01

James Beckett, The Sceptical Structures of Max01, 2019
James Beckett
sheet chipboard, tubular chipboard profile, historical and modern objects, Flatbed printed text
237 × 314 × 39 cm (93 ¼ × 123 ⅝ × 15 ⅜ inches)
Texts (from left to right)Max Himmelheber - Scheidewege Journal, 1975. 'Symptom Therapy and Cure using the Example of the Waste Water Problem'HOKKAIDO. "In the summer of 1953 I initiated operation of a factory in Hokkaido which had been built in German-Japanese cooperation. On the day when the first trial run was to begin, a Shinto priest came to our boiler house early in the morning, where the Japanese staff had gathered with the boss. Together with his altar boys, he attached red prayer strips to manometers, water level glasses and valves of the steam boilers. Then followed a short rite, which I interpreted as a consecration or blessing.'We apologize to the spirit of the water for seizing the spring and for forcing it to drive our steam turbines', a young Japanese engineering colleague told me".Dense particle fibreboard found in private Shinto shrine at the back of Villa Himmelheber, Baiersbronn, DEBois Durci, 1855 - now. 'The Plastics Historical Society'.BOIS Durci (French: hardened wood) could perhaps be described as the best Victorian achievement of a 'plastic' based on an animal polymer. The technique was patented in France in 1856 by Francois Charles Lepage, which he then declared "A New Composition of materials which may be employed as a substitute for wood, leather, bone, metal and other hard or plastic substances'".His composition was made up from blood (from the Paris slaughterhouses) and powdered wood, mixed with colouring to simulate wood. A recipe typically used 4 parts of ebony or rose wood "flour" and 1 part of ox blood albumin. The paste was then dried in a stove maintained at a constant temperature, then ground to a fine powder. In this state it was then pressed in heated steel moulds by a powerful hydraulic press, resulting in a dense and glossy finish.The combination of wood and the organic molecules of blood albumin increase the wood's resistance to mechanical agents considerably, and the procedure's leniency towards details make it a perfect material for statuettes, medallions, and various objects d'art.The SOCIETE DU BOIS DURCI was established to produce desk items, especially decorative inkwell stands and plaques. They continued to make Bois Durci until abvout 1920, by which time it had been superseded by newer plastic materials, such as bakelite.Scheidewege, 1971 - 2000. 'Journal for Sceptical Thinking'.CROSS-roads first appeared in 1971 as a reflective journal published by the Max Himmelheber Foundation. til 2000 it dealt with controversial ecological, philosophical, cultural and historical issues. As one of the first periodicals to work on the concept of environmental sustainability, it displayed a culturally conservative distrust of unexamined technical and scientific progress, and was thus subtitled "für skeptisches Denken" - a journal for sceptical thinking.Scheidewege served as a platform for Himmelheber and his at times dreamy and unashamedly romantic contributions, such as "On the Beauty of Whales and Dolphins". At times more ominous than hopeful, the Scheidewege manifesto claimed examination can and must begin everywhere: "Yesterday cannot be repeated, but tomorrow cannot simply be an improved from of today. Retreating into tradition is as hopeless as the notion that progress has an appropriate mechanism of self-regulation that will finally turn everything in the right direction".As a reflection from Himmelheber (and amongst its contributors, a larger community of engineers) Scheidewege is much overlooked as an untapped potential toward the Green movement.