How to Make Flubber
Poster designed by Nikos Stephou
Drawing from how-to-make-Flubber videos available online, this lecture-workshop makeathon explored the history of Flubber, a semi-fictional substance popularized by a series of Disney films between 1961 and 1997, unpacking it as an ideological object.
Initially appearing within a short story from 1942, Flubber is a substance that shares an intimate relationship with the various timelines and contexts in which it emerges. Shifting across a variety of roles – from that of an artificial rubber, a substance of military utility, a children’s toy, a super-fuel, a substance to control the weather, and a sentient, intelligent being – Flubber’s conceptual transformations echo the aspirations and desires of its fictional, as well as commercial, producers.
In response to Flubber’s slimy materiality and Disney’s packaging of it as a friendly and harmless substance, Flubber is today most popularly known as an object of play. As the how-to-videos emphasise, this play is no longer in just the handling of the material, but is also embedded in the processes of making this substance – in playing the role of the inventor. Using common household ingredients, the participants in this workshop produced batches of Flubber, while exploring its various historical roles, desires, and functions.
Nihaal Faizal (nihaalfaizal.com) is an artist whose work responds to already existing documents from a variety of technological sources. In the past, these have included stock videos, desktop backgrounds, forged antiques, family photographs, popular films, and online videos, amongst others. In responding to these documents, his work addresses questions around authorship,technology, cultural memory, and materiality. He recently attended the Home Workspace Programme at Ashkal Alwan (Beirut, Lebanon) and founded Reliable Copy – a publishing house for works, projects, and writing by artists (Bangalore, India).