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MoMA

MINE KAFON: DESIGN DEMINES

January 16, 2014  |  Collection & Exhibitions, Design
Mine Kafon: Design Demines
Massoud Hassani. Mine Kafon wind-powered deminer. 2011. Bamboo and biodegradable plastics, 87 x 87 x 87" (221 x 221 x 221 cm). Gift of The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art. Photo by Rene van der Hulst

Massoud Hassani. Mine Kafon wind-powered deminer. 2011. Bamboo and biodegradable plastics, 87 x 87 x 87″ (221 x 221 x 221 cm). Gift of The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art. Photo by Rene van der Hulst

Massoud Hassani’s wind-powered land minesweeper, the Mine Kafon, was inspired by the handmade toys from his childhood growing up in the desert north of Kabul, Afghanistan. As a boy, Hassani and his brother would fashion small paper toys to roll in the wind, racing them across the local fields. Years later, as a student working in the Netherlands, Hassani designed a much larger bamboo-legged, dinner-plate-footed, tumble-weedy, dandelion-like device that’s still light enough for the wind to take it across mine fields, but weighty enough to detonate the concealed mines in its rolling path.

Gerhard Heufler. MIMID Miniature Mine Detector

Gerhard Heufler. MIMID Miniature Mine Detector (shown open and closed). 1996. Carbon fiber, 12 7/8″ X 4″ X 49 3/4″ (32.8 X 10.2 X 126.2 cm). Gift of Schiebel Elektronische Gerate GmbH. Photo by Tom Griesel

Hassani’s environmentally friendly device is made with low-cost materials and biodegradable plastics, and a GPS tracker inserted in the core allows it to chart the cleared areas. While the average cost for the deactivation of a single mine ranges from $300 to $1,000 U.S., each Mine Kafon is designed to cost about $50 and withstand as many as four explosions and keep rolling. When it does stop, replacement parts can be added or the remaining unexploded components can be reused in a new device.

It’s hardly necessary to mention the evils of land mines; we’ve all read accounts and seen images of their appalling affects on innocent civilians across the globe—children especially. The statistics are staggering. According to the United Nations, in Afganistan alone there are 10 million unexploded land mines. So to create a life-saving device inspired by child’s play and send it riding on the wind is to fly in the face of a world out of balance; it is an act of poetic justice—or design justice.

The Mine Kafon is on view at MoMA in the exhibition Applied Design through January 20, and it returns to the galleries once again on February 14 as part of the exhibition A Collection of Ideas.

Two other innovative demining design objects that were originally exhibited in MoMA’s SAFE: Design Takes on Risk exhibition will also be on view in A Collection of Ideas: the MIMID Miniature Mine Detector and the Spider Boot Antipersonnel Mine Foot Protection System.

The MIMID: Miniature Mine Detector is a lightweight, portable, folding mine detecting device. It can be carried in a pack or a cargo-pants pocket and prepped on the spot in under than a minute. The Spider Boots, designed for deminers working in active minefields, feature a steel hull and honeycomb aluminum platform raised up on four wide-angled extension pods that deflect blast energy and shrapnel so as to minimize foot and lower-leg injuries.

Gad Shaanan Design, Inc. Spider Boot Anitpersonnel Mine Foot Protection System

Gad Shaanan Design, Inc. Spider Boot Anitpersonnel Mine Foot Protection System. 1998. Thermoplastics and proprietary composites, 20 1/2 X 8 5/8 X 13″ ( 52 X 22 X 33 cm). Photograph/Digital Image The Museum of Modern Art

The Mine Kafon is included in a section of A Collection of Ideas devoted to the theme of design and violence, linking the gallery installation to the MoMA online experimental curatorial project Design and ViolenceThe online project explores the relationship between design objects in our lives and the violence that occupies our world by looking through the lens of design objects that have an ambiguous relationship with violence. On the website, critical thinkers from fields as diverse as science, philosophy, literature, music, film, journalism, and politics consider selected design objects, positing arguments and ideas and sparking a conversation with all readers. The conversation is wide open and everyone’s input is welcome, so please be sure to visit the site and add your own.

Comments

Fascinating, important – everything I want art & design to be. And what I want blogs to be too. With Ms Popeson, the latter is assured. Appreciate the thoughtful glimpses into the most unusual corners of MoMA.

Thank you for the information (10 mil land mines in Afghanistan boggles my mind) and hope of this blog. Art and design stepping in to counter war and landmines.

Fascinating…thanks for exhibiting such designs and for explaining their function and significance here.

A stunning piece.

The Mine Kafon is an exquisite fruition of the loftiest goals of design. And as you observe so eloquently, “…to create a life-saving device inspired by child’s play and send it riding on the wind is to fly in the face of a world out of balance.” Simply magnificent.

The MoMA has always been a fave, but making sense of what\’s in MoMA… that\’s truly priceless.

I will never forget driving down sunny dirt roads surrounded by fields in Cambodia and coming up behind large, unwieldy trucks stopped on the road. They were for mine detection and removal and they made it so evident that this beautiful landscape was full of hidden dangers to everyone there. Wonderful to see something more graceful and playful that could replace the monster trucks.

A good example of the “TED talk design” that has taken over MoMA.

How great to see these clever devices and their inventors getting attention they deserve — and at the same time raising awareness of the long-lasting, destructive footprint of war. Nicely done, Pamela

This is an amazing device! What a wonderful thing this young man has done for humanity. It would be wonderful to see these devices deployed to Cambodia as well. And Pamela Popeson’s description of him, his work, and the impact of his work is, in of itself, a wonderful piece of writing! Thank you!

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