Objects Unveiled: Boxing, Rolling, Stretching, and Cutting

Objects Objects
The chemical element Cobalt is considered a “strategic metal” by the United States government. Strategic metals are defined as commodities integral to the national defense, aerospace, and energy industry, but threatened by supply disruptions due to limited domestic production.

In an era nationally defined by waning industrialization, Michigan’s Protect and Grow, part of the Michigan Defense Center’s “Arsenal of Innovation” is touted as an answer to a challenging consumer-industrial sector. Following Cobalt through products linked to Michigan’s military production, we find it necessary in jet engines, magnetic steel, and gas turbines. Beyond its military applications, it is an essential component in hybrid & electric car batteries, mobile phones and laptops, and it serves as a coloring pigment in porcelain and ceramics.

Currently 80% of the world’s Cobalt is harvested in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was only in late 2014 that Michigan began producing Cobalt from a Nickel/copper mine, one of two sites within the US that can currently produce the element.

Boxing, rolling, stretching, and cutting describe techniques used to alter Cobalt. Studying the transformation, production, distribution, and use is the starting point for this object-based exhibition about the links between the consumer and military markets, environmental sacrificial zones, and the associated transactions.

The exhibition includes photographs, documents, and military/industrial objects that are transformed through boxing, bundling, rolling, cutting, crushing, containerizing, and cubing.