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02 掘る形

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“Study of the shapes of oil drills," Monira Al Qadiri (2015)
The Shape of Extraction

The oil industry is very much a secret industry concealed from public view. It is said that this situation is primarily security related, but it has a compounded effect: it creates an air of mystery and unknowingness about the nature and mechanics of oil extraction. This secrecy transforms oil into a metaphysical wealth-producing magical creature, far removed from manmade machines, specialized technicians and sweating laborers.

How do we find a way to make this alien world visible to us? How can we create a sense of intimacy and affinity with this energy source that transformed our cities and bodies, but eludes our sight at the same time?

I attempted to find a definitive “form” for this industry by first looking at the machinery that is used within it: the classic oil barrel (originally owing its form to a whiskey barrel); the towering sky-scraping oil rig out in the sea; the elaborate ‘vibrator truck’ sending signals to the ground to find new oil sources; the huge tanker ships that can carry thousands of barrels at a time. All of these elements contained interesting forms and shapes, yet I did not find them to be ‘definitive’ somehow.

I looked at the different parts again and again, trying to ‘dig’ for a better shape. I continued this process until I discovered the central cog that had eluded me this whole time – the perfect candidate: the oil drill. Oil drills have magnificent fantastic shapes, often resembling marine creatures or octopuses living in the bottom of the ocean, looking organic as if they are about to make a move. They are usually covered in gold and diamonds to help them drill better, making them seem even more magnanimous and opulent.

I began to research the shapes of these drills over several years, searching through technical words and phrases to be able to find more and more different types. I scoured through catalogue after catalogue of international oil companies, often in languages I do not understand, trying to find the optimal shape. In short, I was attempting to monumentalize these machines somehow. I wanted to create a monument for a post-oil generation without a past.

Monira Al Qadiri