Line drawing in black ink on white background of three gooseneck barnacles, two of them wearing dresses.

The aesthetics of ethics

Marx wasn’t very interested in art. He said that the art of his time was a bourgeois affectation and a different society would naturally produce different art. That was more or less what I was thinking the other day when I was learning to sublimate. Sublimation is a technique to print on fabric where colour is transferred to the fabric with heat. The scorched inks turn into gas and fix to the fabric forever and ever. But for the union to consummate, the fabric has to be polyester.

I asked the teacher if I could find eco polyester. A bit of a silly question, I know polyester is made out of petroleum derivatives. But as there are fabrics made out of recycled plastic I asked anyway and with expectant optimism. He replied what people who are not very interested in the subject usually reply: no. And even if a fabric says it is, in reality one cannot know. And it is also expensive. So better not to bother. It is more expensive to destroy the planet, but with a bit of luck someone else will pay.

The thing is, I understood the proliferation of horrendous patterns on unpleasant synthetic clothes. It is cheaper than printing with plates. Technology and economy determine aesthetics. So I discarded sublimation as a method of printing on fabric, preferring the exploration of natural materials and friendlier colours. At least until somebody has picked up all those plastic bags that float on our seas and turned them into something more interesting. Being careless slobs and printing on new plastic when there is so much plastic to be recycled is not at all sublime. However heated the excuse.