Progress Trap

Charles Gabriel_Sculptural Glass_hand-carved and kiln-fired art glass_"Progress Trap"_detail of circular "life ring" design

“Progress Trap” is a distillation of an idea, as the design has gone through a few reworkings in an attempt to convey the concept within a balanced aesthetic.


carved art glass-kiln glass-charles gabriel- progress trap-kiln fired glass-process carving carved glass-kiln glass-charles gabriel-progress trap-process carved glass-art glass-kiln glass-progress trap-charles gabriel-process glass carving-detail-charles gabriel-art glass-kiln firing glass-free standing glass-blasted glass-progress trap

IMAG1128 IMAG1127 Progress Trap 2_edited-1

I first came across the term in Ronald Wright’s 2004 book, “A Short History of Progress”.

The Progress Trap refers to the methodology in which countless civilizations have failed under the weight of their own ability to extract and consume the finite supply of resources upon which they were dependent. Modern global society behaves in much the same way. With massive advances in technology, we are managing to tax the entire ecosystem of the planet.

For this work, the primary medium is glass, which represents a prism, or lens.

The smaller of the two clear circles represents society, currently. The resemblance to a nautical life ring is by design. From this emanates a pattern of “interconnectedness” upwards to a larger circle which represents both our creation of, and dependence on, technology. This circle’s more mechanized design evokes machinery such as an aircraft turbine or a blade, depicting the tools we have developed to extend our reach so fantastically. The positioning and size relative to the smaller circle refers as much to the scale of the technology we have surrounded ourselves with, as it does the importance of our dependence upon it. It is held upward in a place of reverence historically reserved for icons or figures of worship.

Finally the outer circular line surrounding each clear one represents the limits of a finite system in which both exist.

The overall look is meant to suggest a measuring device such as a barometer, that displays the information. The physical size of the work – being as tall as a person – intends to engage the viewer that they appreciate the scale of the situation – and that it is their own scale, reflected back upon them.

Share Your Thoughts