DS Institute

Email: contact (AT) dsinstitute.com

The DS Institute is a group creating contextual artwork that responds to their direct environment but has larger cultural applications. The DS Institute consists of steam expert ceramicist Zach Dunn, artist/social engineer Caitlin Foley, interactive installation artist Misha Rabinovich. The DS Institute photographer is Andrew Frost. Additional photography by Joe Roggenbuck.

The DS Institute received a small grant to create their first project in 2010. Through the combination of all of their skills, the group produced a Utopian solution for the cleanup of Onondaga lake in Syracuse, NY. The project led the group to win a Syracuse Sustainability Fellowship, a spot for their exhibit in the conference and speaking engagements. For their next project, the DS Institute decided to tackle a more elusive local issue and produce a practical solution for the Syracuse community and beyond.

The transcendental experience of a good sauna session sheds light on the roots of our culture. Ancient Greek philosophical activity often located itself in and around bath houses. At the pivotal moment in the history of Philosophy, Socrates accepted his punishment: he drank the cup of poison prepared from Hemlock and died. He unequivocally showed his commitment to local laws and made the ultimate sacrifice to the authority of his state. Conversely, the DS Institute throws the metaphorical Hemlock cup to the ground. The Institute breaks away from a single locale with a nomadic cultural mission of many loci. The DS Institute pledges allegiance to permanent travel, to perpetual exploration, to continual reflection, and sublimation of solids into steam.

The Mobile Sauna is a carefully crafted environment combining locally sourced materials with a cedar interior, handmade tiles, custom made RGB LED lighting and housing a highly efficient wood-fired sauna stove. The sauna is a potent vehicle for regeneration. On the one hand the sauna filters out external reality while on the other it cleanses people of physical toxins, but it does so from the inside out. People internalize their daily stresses, and the sauna releases them. Sauna cultures have a long history and are prevalent in many countries with climates similar to that of North America. Yet saunas are hard to come by in the United States. The Mobile Sauna by the DS Institute provides an open and comfortable environment for warmth, rejuvenation, and conversation. This sauna is portable in order to go places where the culture is becoming increasingly privatized and reminds us of the importance of shared space in fostering healthy lifestyles. People come together in the Mobile Sauna to cleanse and engage in warm conversations and fiery discourse.

Previous collaborators include Maximilian Bauer and Jennifer Chan.

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