Amy and Oliver Thomas-Irvine are a collaborative duo that live and work in Cornwall. They work in sculpture, found-object, collage, photography, performance as well as by-products from performance-based installations.
Binlang takes the form of a fire extinguisher replica made from by-products from Betel nuts and mild steel. Amy and Oliver Thomas-Irvine are interested in how the reconfigured extinguisher and its relatable red appearance can alter the architecture of this intimate gallery space.
This project is a development of Amy and Oliver Thomas-Irvine’s interest in the alternation of space and material by-products produced from labour intensive and physical workings.
Binlang known also as Betel nuts are berries that grow on Areca palms. When chewed in combination with Betel leaf and slaked lime it produces mild psychoactive and stimulative effects, and also creates a warming sensation and heightened alertness. Chewing the mixture is a tradition, custom, and ritual, which dates back thousands of years in areas from South Asia eastward to the Pacific.
Today, in Taiwan, the betel nut is commonly chewed by labourers to increase stamina and helps sustain energy for their intensive jobs. Along with a mild feeling of euphoria and energy a startling by-product of the nut is the excessive blood-red saliva that fills the mouths of those that chew it. Specifically to Taiwan are the Betel stalls and the ‘Betel nut beauties’ who sit in small, tailor made, temporary glass fronted and brightly lit booths in which they prepare and sell the Binlang. The booths are situated on busy roads on the outskirts of the city and the aim of the ‘beauties’ and the booths is to attract the attention of workers in need of a caffine-like high.