In Japan, there is a centuries-old tradition of repairing items with gold known as kintsugi. While this practice is mostly applied to pottery, Buenos Aires-based collective MOLI has imagined another use for it. Drawn to the nostalgia of vintage gadgets, this Argentinian studio has dreamed up Golden Era, a series in which iconic devices have been repaired and brought back to life. To do so, they turn to gold joinery and the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi—seeing beauty in the flawed or imperfect.
“The concept for Golden Era was born out of love for pop culture in general mixed with some 80s nostalgia,” Sebastián Dias from MOLI, tells My Modern Met. The series features some truly celebrated devices, like the Nintendo Gameboy, the Sony Mega Watchman, a Seiko digital watch, and a Sony PS-F9 Turntable. “We got particularly drawn in by certain gadgets that became worldwide iconic during that time, which all happened to be ‘made in Japan' over what's known as the country's golden age of technology and electronics industry.”
But these are not found objects, picked up from a landfill or retrieved from a basement. Rather, the three members of MOLI, Dias, Jonatan Basaldúa, and Nacho Gómez, have put together their skills in 3D CGI art and animation to digitally model these pieces. “Entering Japan as a common factor in the equation, we imagined a fictional story about a little shop's owner who would rescue/collect and restore these items from the past, transforming them into unique art pieces,” Dias explains.
As such, they found a beautiful way to marry Japan's heritage and a not so distant past. “The restoration process needed to be special,” the digital artist says. It’s at this point they decided to incorporate kintsugi into their project. “We then thought it was certainly a good (an unusual) match: We could celebrate these ‘golden era' objects with ‘golden scars' and give them a second chance to shine.”
Since MOLI devotes most of its time to commercial projects, finishing Golden Era took them a year, as it was done in their free time. On top of that, the team wanted to really nail down the details and the aesthetic. “We also took it as a personal challenge and dedicated a good amount of time researching, modeling, texturing, and customizing every detail from scratch in 3D, including the items themselves and the ‘Machiya' style storefront,” Dias explains. “Last but not least, the initial idea was to build just a small series of images, but we got carried away and ended up producing a short animation and an original music track to go with it.”
In the end, the result is an endearing and astonishing tribute to Japanese technology, pop culture, and traditional art. Through a detailed digital art homage, MOLI sees the beauty in the obsolete, turning treasured moments into a literal treasure.
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