Black Gold


A collaborative project by Mark Lipton, Hege Tapio and Marta de Menezes.

Inspired by experimental alchemists like Henning Brand, a tedious and fowlsmelling process has taken place to create this condensed liquid of black gold. Though no longer golden, approximately 700ml of urine has been distilled down to dark matter. The project was initiated to see if we could discover amorphous crystals.

From the medieval time and up until our present, human bodymatter has been a resource for a wide range of practice – spanning from magic and folk remedy to medicinal purpose and advanced biotechnology. Just by looking at the use of urine we can find that:
Back in the times of the Roman empire urine was used in the tanning industry, softening the leather – there was even a concept of “urine tax” where the urine from the citizens was collected via public pots to gather urine for the tanning pools. And as stale urine becomes ammonia – it was widely used as a stain remover as well as laundry product. It has also been used to make fertilizer, medicine, brain cells and even gunpowder.Furthermore urine has proved to be useful in making of electricity, or as injections to promote fertility. The German chemist Friedrich Wöhler,- who began the field of organic chemistry, managed to chemically recreate a compund found in urine called urea in 1828. By this he proved that it was possible to produce organic chemicals in the lab, and also that humans were part of nature. 

The project Black Gold is closely linked to the work of the artist Hege Tapio where she makes use of her own bodymatter, to be more specific – harvesting her own bodyfat to produce biofuel. Her previous project Humanfuel yielded in total about 800ml of what could safely be called the worlds most exclusive biofuel. The artproject started out first as a webpage presenting the Humanfuel product made from the fictious Lithuanian based company Lipotechnica. The artist was later invited to produce the actual biofuel in 2016 for the exhibition connected to the HYBRID MATTERs Nordic Art & Science Network. Coming from the oil-capital of Norway, Stavanger – this has been her contribution and way of commenting on how we extort the resources around us. Tapio uses the term extreme selfmining, reminding us that we also pose as a resource.