Manufacturing processes are a common inspiration for Philipp, who created this piece sculptural piece after learning about the production of coke – which is performed behind industrial “curtains” on a large scale.
When coal becomes coke, a high-carbon fuel, it is processed at temperatures of over 1000 degrees celsius in the absence of oxygen. Philipp’s research revealed that during this procedure the coal does not burn, but simply loses its volatile contents. What remains is almost pure carbon.
In ‘From Below,’ Philipp investigates this process intellectually and implements his encounters in an aesthetically crafted manner. So he built his own miniature coking plant: at the center of an oven which works like a ceramic kiln, Philipp installed a distillation container. This contains the coal and protects it from oxygen so it doesn’t burn. Meanwhile, two mouth-blown glass flasks collect tar and other liquids that emerge during the distillation process. A large copper tank filled with water serves as the cooling element. Gases that do not liquify, are channeled out through copper pipes and are burned upon emission.
Using this distillation method, he procured his own coke to use as a medium. Since the material has never been sculpted before, Philipp focused on five basic geometric shapes in an exploration of its material behavior. The result is ‘From Below.’