We’ve been doing this Covid thing for a year now—a whole dang year—so it’s normal, expected even, that this violent upheaval or our daily routines, our relationships, and ourselves would inform if not outright upend how we view and interact with the world around us. And there is no better real-time indicator of how the zeitgeist has been affected by this social suffocation than art. Regardless of the medium—be it music, TV and movies, painting, writing, you name it—art can be a direct portal into the emotional headspace of its creator, in the here and now, to give us a vivid representation of how prolonged isolation has changed us all.
And if these truly bizarre works are any indicator, you should probably check in with your coffee art friends.
Are you ready to be uneasy? Be forewarned: there are some things you can’t unsee. Ok? Meet Philip. Created and directed by Andre Maat, Philip is a three-minute short film that follows an aging office coffee maker as it struggles with obsolescence at the hands of a fancy new pod machine. It would all be sweet and slightly tragic were it not for the deeply unnerving Philip, a Philips band Mr. Coffee-style brewer turned Claymation-looking marionette puppet.
It’s like something Michel Gondry would make after 12 espressos and a hit of good acid.
As a lover of Mr. Coffees, I want to be on the side of Philip, especially against the wasteful single use pod coffee maker. And the way all those white collar schmucks—whose mere existence as the cavorting masses is off-putting in this isolation that is pandemic normal—chortle off-screen at the different flavors and the “real espresso” from the pod machine, and in front of Philip no less, ooooh it gets my blood boiling.
But still, I can help but wonder, do these workers really love the pod machine or are they pretending that Philip doesn’t exist because there is a weirdo (played by puppeteer Tim Hammer) who anthropomorphized their favorite coffee maker? What if Philip isn’t the problem but the person obviously controlling Philip? I mean, I wouldn’t get a coffee if I had to interact in earnest with a puppet, pretending to not see the person pulling the strings who makes no effort to conceal themselves. That’s not normal behavior and it should not be rewarded.
That was a lot, right? Philip is a lot. So let’s bring it down a notch for some weird coffee art without all those heebie-jeebies.
If you’re a tinkerer, you’ve no doubt taken apart some piece of coffee gear to get a better idea of its inner workings. Swiss artist Fabian Oefner did with his Bialetti Moka Pot, but not in the way you or I would. Brought to our attention by Design Boom, Oefner sliced his Moka Pot vertically, casting it into resin sheets for his sculpture, The Bialetti Book. Part of his Spatial Book series, which sees the artist slicing up all manner of object including a Brionvega radio, The Bialetti Book weighs a whopping 25 pounds and features a total 12 vertical slices of the beloved coffee maker. From Design Boom:
Oefner bypasses abstraction, and turns reality directly into a two dimensional space. “As you browse through the pages, you get a completely different look on these familiar objects,” he says. “The result is an intensified sense of space, dimensions, materiality, and time.”
Just watching Oefner flip through the pages is mesmerizing and is a nice palate cleanser after Philip. Poor, poor Philip. Admittedly, The Bialetti Book was created in August 2020, very early in pandemic life, so there's no telling what sort of bizarre things Oefner has done to a coffee maker in the six months since. Has anyone seen Philip in a while?
What has become clear through all this is that coffee makers are the objet d'art du jour. So during this (hopefully) last leg of the pandemic, the question remains: what coffee maker will you destroy in the name of art?