Thousands of brand new cars were scrapped after the diesel emissions scandal in 2008, which revealed that manufacturers had been violating the Clean Air Act – one of the biggest global scandals in the history of the car. This mass trashing has accelerated the transition from the internal combustion engine (ICE) to electric battery power, creating opportunities for carmakers to capitalise on the shift away from fossil fuels with fresh concepts for the future of transport. As an object, the car is shaped by an ecosystem of economics, geopolitics, technology, policy, demographics, changing consu…
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Fractional Object

Johanna Seelemann

Thousands of brand new cars were scrapped after the diesel emissions scandal in 2008, which revealed that manufacturers had been violating the Clean Air Act – one of the biggest global scandals in the history of the car. This mass trashing has accelerated the transition from the internal combustion engine (ICE) to electric battery power, creating opportunities for carmakers to capitalise on the shift away from fossil fuels with fresh concepts for the future of transport.

As an object, the car is shaped by an ecosystem of economics, geopolitics, technology, policy, demographics, changing consumer preferences and culture. In recent years, with environmental issues high on the agenda, the car has begun a slow fall from grace, losing some of its power as a status symbol. But since the 1920s, the automotive industry has used idealised futures to sell products. Experts predict that the concept of the electric, autonomous vehicle will be so successful that by 2040 it will have dramatically changed how both people and goods are transported.

Carmakers have also refined the art of product obsolescence, both in function and in desirability. With every new concept, an old model becomes obsolete, adding to a growing mountain of trash. An eight-cylinder engine contains more than 1,200 moving parts that need to be mounted, while an electric motor only has 17. One shared car could replace up to eight old ones. The collapse of manufacturing supply chains would also see millions of jobs made redundant, while international oil consumption could halve, turning gas stations and oil rigs into yet more junk. Johanna Seelemann explores the car’s relationship with the consumer market, presenting potential techno-fossils that might be produced by the move to renewable energy and autonomous vehicles alongside contemporary automotive junk.

Credits

Car Junk Support: René Hartmann, Seik Automobil Recycling GmbH

References

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Bio

Johanna Seelemann is a conceptual designer and chain-collaborator, exploring issues such as the role of design in high-volume producing industries, the mystification of everyday-consumed products, as well as commodity journeys along their supply chains. She is driven by a keen interest in exploring the hidden contexts of the products that enable today’s everyday life. She sees her role as the link between material extraction, industrial production contexts, object and user.

Contacts

johannaseelemann.com Link

@johannaseelemann Link