The natural world exists as a perfect cycle because there is no beginning or ending.  For example, if a deer dies, it may be the “end” of the deer’s life, but it is also the “beginning” of something new — like new plant life.  Nothing is wasted in the natural world because everything “old” is renewed in some way.  However, the human world is not a complete cycle, because “old” items are merely discarded back into the natural world as excess waste, and thus, damage the natural world through pollution.

Since humans produce many things that do not belong to the natural world’s cycle, such as plastic, cars, computers, and so forth, the human world is separated from the natural world. The natural world does not have the ability to deal with such man-made materials. For example, a plastic bag can exist for hundreds of years in the natural world without dissolving and therefore, should be labeled “human world materials.”

So in this case, the period between the bags’ beginning and its ending belongs to the human world. Not as a cycle, but as it intersects with the perfect cycle of the natural world. Therefore these intersections between the human world and natural world are the points where the human world damages the natural world, creating a gap within the human world’s cycle. If the human world could complete its cycle, bridging the gap of having no “beginning” or “ending”, the damage and pollution would stop.  This is not referring to sustainability or recycling, but simply pointing to the incomplete cycle of the human world that creates the damage.

Therefore, if humans must take materials from the natural world, they should return the materials back to the natural world in a non-damaging way, or they should find a way to reuse the materials, such as, reform into a car component as the chart shows below:

In the right diagram, the human world exists independently from the natural world, as a peaceful system where borrowing from and returning to the natural world has replaced the system of damaging and polluting. There would be no beginning or ending, therefore creating two perfect cycles that can co-exist. If there is no beginning and ending, and everything can be in a perfect circular system, then the whole environment will be released and recovered.  

For this project I am planning to make a “man-made materials’ ecosystem.” Right now, the idea is still very rough, and sounds idealistic, but I believe that it can be realized through my research. The man-made materials ecosystem will consist of only man-made material, especially common products, such as clothes, computers, chairs, and so on. It will be a closed and independent system installation where one man-made object can fit into or become another object. For example:  the man-made products in my system will be linked as a loop, such as, Laptop cupbicycle clothlaptop. I may use components of broken chairs and used computers to make a new product. The point of the project is not about to make a specific product, but try to explain the idea that when designers design a product, they should not consider only the functional part of the product but also where the product come from and where it goes. For instance, when people make a cup, they should not only regard it as a container but also think about where the cup comes from, maybe from a lamp and where the cup goes, maybe goes to a bicycle. Therefore, the project does not focus on “recycle” or “reuse” but on the places where a man-made product begins and ends.

--by Yuanyuan Li--Sep.2009