The public image of cardboard has changed tremendously in recent years, thanks to creative designers and architects like Shigeru Ban, who are using this recyclable material to make things like transformer furniture or earthquake-resistant structures. But this rough and humble material is completely transformed under the imaginative vision and skilled hands of Melbourne-based artist Daniel Agdag, who creates fantastical and complex machines and airships under the name Public Office, all out of cardboard.
Seen over at This Is Colossal, Agdag explains that his whimsical works attempt to re-imagine the hidden, inner mechanisms of everyday things, to realize in physical materials a kind of internal narrative that the artist has conceptualized within his head:
Aesthetically, the driving force behind the creation of works I make stem from a need to see and imagine objects, machines and environments in a way I’d like to see them, to imagine how I think they work and expose their inner workings. All too often, the most amazing feats of human engineering are kept hidden and disguised under shiny facades or reinforced concrete.
Of particular charm are Agdag's fanciful airships, outfitted with impossible amounts of detail, like paddles, propellers and rudders, delicately hung ropes, snaking horns, a prolific numbers of wheels and gears, as well as balloons and sails made out of trace paper. Apparently, Agdag's fascination with airships were prompted by his own family history, and his mother who had bravely immigrated by herself to Australia from Europe. Airships represent a kind of independence, he says: "I think of the airships as a vehicle to escape with, an attempt to cross a divide, to be the captain of my own journey."
It's hard to believe that it's all done with simple cardboard and a sharp knife, but Agdag has accomplished a delicate feat, balancing meticulous craftsmanship with artistic ingenuity. While today's modern aesthetic tends to be minimal and sterile, Agdag's sculptures are decidedly and richly anachronistic, hinting at a complexity that lies beneath the surface in all things, an imaginary cardboard steampunk world that exists at the edge of imagination. More over at This Is Colossal and Daniel Agdag's Public Office.