Leong Leong’s “A Toolkit for a Newer Age” is part of the exhibition at Chamber Gallery titled “Unpacking the Cube,” including works by Steven Holl and Levenbetts. It is a single show in a series curated by Andrew Zuckerman called “Human Nature.”
“A Toolkit for a Newer Age” is a collection of nine objects, or primitive technologies, designed for satisfying basic human needs. The objects include a tiffin, mortar and pestle, seats, vessel, censer, salt block, candle, horn, and headrests, all of which are placed on an insulated mat. The 8” x 8” objects can be configured into a series of distinct constellations, alluding to ritualistic events that provide individual and communal opportunities for reflection and socialization. “A Toolkit for a Newer Age” explores architecture’s capacity to connect the individual to the collective through simple forms and their organization in space. While each object is designed for a specific human activity (sleeping, eating, meditating, etc.), their shapes remain ambiguous and suggest their potential to exist at many scales, from the intimate to the monumental. Their “functionality” expands beyond their pragmatic use as domestic tools to their status as quasi-spiritual totems. The iconic shapes of the tools are milled from Himalayan salt by robots, generating a contrast between advanced fabrication technologies and the organic qualities of the ancient seabed. The fragility of the salt will eventually push the objects toward functional obsolescence, leaving only their essential usefulness as a vital human nutrient. This further embodies the dualistic nature of the tools, at once solidly essential and poised for decomposition.