Have you ever thought about peeing for science?
At DISPOSABLE you can wee in a bottle and donate your urine to run the Urinotron and charge your mobile phone!
The Urinotron is part of Science Gallery Melbourne‘s newest pop-up season DISPOSABLE. Science Gallery Melbourne is a new place where art and science collide, opening in 2020 in Carlton. While their permanent home is being built they have curated three pop up exhibitions.
DISPOSABLE is being run out of various inner-city Melbourne locations for a month. You will find programs at The University of Melbourne’s Parkville and Southbank campuses, Footscray Community Arts Centre and Testing Grounds.
DISPOSABLE uses outdoor installations, exhibits, performances, experiments and workshops to challenge what we can do with our garbage and to find innovations, creative solutions and opportunities within our wasteful and disposable culture.
The program has been curated with young adults for young adult. Nevertheless, Lady AB (8 years) and Baby 2.0 (6 years) are fascinated by the installations and I think younger children can still engage with most of the content.
The Urinotron is a large-scale installation that harnesses the electricity generated by the microbes naturally present in the urea in urine. It also recycles the urine into pure water that’s cleaner than the water that we currently have coming out of our taps.
The law currently says that such water cannot be drunk or even used to water plants, but I anticipate as water shortages rise that the lawmakers may have to move with the science. Urinotron considers why we are flushing such a valuable resource?
Another installation at The University of Melbourne Parkville is Plastivore. We are entranced by the mealworms making a ‘meal’ out of masses of non-biodegradable polystyrene foam positioned inside a large scale model of a human stomach.
The scientists are experimenting with whether succulents (particularly hardy plants) will grow in the mealworm’s compost. The mealworms will eventually be provided to an animal sanctuary in order to feed the animals – circle of life indeed!
At The University of Melbourne there are also headphones where you can listen to DISPOSABLE Podcasts. Lady AB spends a lot of time listening to A Woman’s Twenty-Year Journey Towards Zero Waste as our household is currently just starting our journey towards zero waste/minimal waste living.
At Testing Grounds we listen to artists ‘chew the fat’ as they discuss their work Fatberg over a fire pit and toasted cheese jaffles as part of Testing Ground’s ‘Jaffle Symposium‘ series of free public talks.
Fatberg is Australia’s first purpose-built island of fat and challenges us to ask What is fat? What is fat’s future? And do we really know fat? What is fat becomes unpredictable, overtaking ourselves and our sewage systems?
Also at Testing Grounds, then moving to The University of Melbourne, is the Sewer Soaperie. The Sewer Soaperie turns raw sewage and fat into luxury soaps – basically taking the fatbergs of coagulated grease created when people pour used liquid oil down the sink, sterilising it and turning it into soap.
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We experiment with handwashing using the soaps. The sewer soaps smell and feel exactly the same as the conventional soaps that are presented as a comparison. It seems to the kids that this is a commercially viable way to create sustainable goods and to reuse our waste.
At Footscray Community Arts Centre, Eel Trap is a 10-metre installation made of reeds and grasses on the Maribyrnong River created by Boon Wurrung artist Mitch Mahoney and Mutti Mutti/Yorta Yorta and Boon Wurrung/Wemba Wemba artist Maree Clarke.
The installation was created by Mahoney and Clarke in free drop-in community weaving workshops and is released into the Maribyrnong River until Saturday 31 August.
We visit the Pollution Pods as part of White Night Reimagined. Inside beautiful pods the artist Michael Pinsky has recreated the pristine air quality of Tautra, a remote Norwegian island, then moves the visitor through to the pods with some of the lowest air quality in the world: London, New Delhi, Beijing and São Paulo.
Finally if you’re walking Southbank between Wednesday 28 August and Sunday 1 September watch the Trash Robot at work as it trawls the Yarra River collecting rubbish outside of the City’s existing litter traps.
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