System 001: An Innovative Design to Remove Plastic From the Ocean has Been Deployed off the Coast of California
Founded in 2013 by 18-year-old (at the time) inventor Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanup is a nonprofit organization that’s working to clean up our oceans by removing plastic. After five years of rigorous design and testing, the Cleanup’s cleaning apparatus, called System 001, has been deployed off the coast of California.
System 001 is a passive collection apparatus that works by moving in tandem with the ocean’s currents, taking advantage of the water’s circular movement patterns, called gyres, that cause the trash to accumulate in the first place. The Ocean Cleanup points out that 92% of the debris in the Patch is still large enough to be collected using the System’s large suspended net, and it’s critical to remove this plastic now before it degrades into microplastics that enter the food chain. Because of the net’s passive, slow-moving design, the group has reported that it has not caused animals to get caught, presumably because they have sufficient time and space to navigate away from the debris-funneling nets.
While the organization has global aspirations and an international team (the founder is Dutch), their first focus is on the massive Pacific Garbage Patch, which floats in the ocean between California and Hawaii. The Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest aquatic aggregation of trash in the world, first recognized thirty years ago. It is estimated to contain about 80,000 metric tons of garbage spanning 5.2 billion square feet (nearly a million square miles). Ocean Cleanup’s boat, the Maersk Launcher, towed the System 1,200 miles from Alameda to begin its work.
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After taking a much-needed break over the summer following his successful presentation in Paris in June, Pejac is now back in his studio, developing new works for his U.S. debut in New York City and preparing a special limited edition that will be released toward the end of the year. Mixing his most recognizable techniques and mediums, he’s been sharing some of the alluring new pieces via his Instagram, including most recent drawings and works on pressed wood panels.
The Spanish artist first introduced the captivating works on wooden chipboard from the Redemption series back in January 2017, and eventually had an entire showcase focused on these pieces back in September 2017 in Venice. Known for revisiting his ideas and concepts, he recently finished this poignant new piece titled Safari. Mixing some of the previously seen imagery, such as patrolling helicopters with a spotlight, or a lonely stag, Pejac combines these visuals into a dynamic image that depicts a wild animal caught in the open by an unknown authority. Using fastidious shading and light effects, he uses the unorthodox composite wood medium to create a powerful effect of objects flying around the animal as its surrounding crumble around it. Once again putting a focus on the careless and ignorant bearing of humans towards nature, the artist constructed a gripping image utilizing an original technique he developed.
With similar thematic content, Pejac’s most recent solo exhibition on an old waterway barge on the Seine in Paris included three masterful large-scale drawings, along with other works on paper. Portraying a post-apocalyptic, surreal future, these meticulously rendered drawings mounted on thick frames were matched the quality of his paintings while depicting the hefty subject with a direct and delicate technique. Showing a lone character diving deep to retrieve a sinking lifebuoy ring in between plastic waste, or a helicopter removing a lighthouse over a desert, these images showcase Pejac’s poetic vision and his ability to pass a sharp and weighty message in the most poetic way.
A great example of such narrative is his canvas Le Bateau Ivre (The drunken boat) from 2015, titled after a poem written by Arthur Rimbaud, describing the drifting and sinking of a boat lost at sea in a fragmented first-person narrative saturated with vivid imagery and symbolism. Making an analogy with poem’s verbal saturation, the image shows two boys finishing from a small boat drifting through a sea densely polluted with garbage. Originally exhibited at his 2016 London solo show “Law of the Weakest,” this troubling vision from only three years ago is repeatedly becoming an alarming reality around the globe. You can see Pejac’s works in progress and stay up to date on show and print release announcements by following him on Instagram.
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The latest installation by ceramicist and ocean advocate Courtney Mattison (previously) is Confluence (Our Changing Seas V), a porcelain coral arrangement produced for the US Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. The site-specific work features a vibrant cluster of coral structures at its center which turn stark white the further they are placed from the installation’s core. This shifting gradient references the rapid devastation caused to reefs as temperature levels rise and force corals to lose their colorful algae.
This installation is a celebration of Indonesia’s coral reefs, while also pinpointing the human-caused damage that infects the vibrant systems. “Corals, anemones, sponges and other reef-dwelling invertebrates coalesce into a cyclone-like spiral with colorful healthy corals at the eye of the storm, their tentacles and branches dancing in the current,” explains Mattison. “Toward the edges and tail of the swirling constellation, corals sicken and bleach, exposing their sterile white skeletons—a specter of what could be lost from climate change. Yet at its heart the reef remains healthy, resilient and harmonious.”
Indonesia is located at the heart of what is called the “Coral Triangle” or “Amazon of the Sea.” This environment is host to more invertebrate species than can be found anywhere else on the planet, in addition to thousands of species of fish which thrive in the rich ecosystem. Mattison hopes that her handmade constructions of the Coral Triangle’s diverse specimens produces an excitement in viewers while sparking an interest to protect the delicate balance found in Indonesia’s coral systems.
Mattison is exhibiting another recent installation titled Afterglow (Our Changing Seas VI) in the group show Endangered Species: Artists on the Frontline of Biodiversity, curated by Barbara Matilsky, at the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Washington through January 6, 2019. Mattison will travel to Bali at the end of October to unveil a 60-foot-long community-based coral installation she designed for the Coral Triangle Center in Sanur, Bali titled Semesta Terumbu Karang—Coral Universe. The work features over 2000 elements sculpted by a team of over 300 volunteers, coral reef conservationists, and Balinese artisans. You can see further conservation-based projects by Mattison on her website and Instagram.
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Animals and Statues Serve as the Protagonists of Startlingly Realistic Post-Apocalyptic Paintings by Josh Keyes
Portland-based artist Josh Keyes (previously) paints hyperrealistic depictions of what he perceives the world might look like after the fall of humans. Animals such as sharks, tigers, and bulls remain as the final witnesses to the aftermath of human destruction—observing blazing fires, investigating displaced commercial objects, and swimming amongst melted ice caps. Monuments and statues also remain in this post-apocalyptic world, like in the artist’s recent painting Siren, which observes a graffiti-covered angel with a horn being splashed with the ocean’s high tide. Keyes’s solo exhibition Tempest opens on October 13, 2018 and runs through November 3, 2018 at Thinkspace Projects in Los Angeles. You can see more of his paintings on his Instagram and website. (via Supersonic Art)
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In response to the Bruges Triennial’s 2018 theme “Liquid City,” Brooklyn-based architecture and design firm STUDIOKCA designed a 38-foot-tall sculptural whale composed of over five tons of plastic pulled from the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The studio, led by Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang, wanted to address how cities from across the globe are contributing to the waste that has piled up in our oceans—the discarded plastic that is washing up on our shores and endangering and killing marine life.
Skyscraper contains nearly 4,000-square-feet of plastic waste, which is just a dent in the 150 million tons of plastic that currently circulates in our seas. STUDIOKCA worked with the Hawaii Wildlife Fund to coordinate several beach clean-ups, which is how the team found most of the plastic for the 10,000-pound whale.
“Right now there is 150 million tons of plastic swimming in the ocean, our oceans, the oceans we share,” says Klimoski in a video created about the project. “Pound for pound that is more plastic waste swimming in the ocean than there is whales. So an opportunity like this to show the type of plastic and the amount of plastic that ends up in our oceans is really important.”
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Mexican photographer and anthropologist Anuar Patjane captures black and white moments of life underwater as a way to bring awareness to a part of the world most do not get a chance to see. Patjane searches for awe-inspiring snapshots to connect viewers with images of fish and other underwater animals. He hopes his photographs create an empathy towards these creatures and their environment while also expressing the impact that our choices have on their trajectory as species of the sea.
“With the [Underwater Realm] series, I try to drive our attention towards the beauty of our oceans a a truth usually unnoticed: We are brutally overfishing in our oceans, and our attention should be concentrated on the way we fish, as well as what we eat from the ocean,” he explains in an artist statement about the series. “We see and care when a forest is gone because it is visible to everybody, but we don’t see when we destroy life underwater.”
Patjane not only captures life underwater, but landscapes from all over the globe that may often go unnoticed. You can see more of his series, including images shot in Antarctica and Iceland, on his website and Instagram.
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Billowing clouds of smoke burst upon rugged mountainous terrains, deserted architecture, and blossoming fields. These vibrant, ethereal sceneries are captured by French photographers Isabelle Chapuis and Alexis Pichot and are part of their Blossom project. The duo’s smokey clouds emerge from beautiful landscapes and desolate buildings alike, transforming both natural and abandoned scenes into enchanted spaces of sorcery and wonder.
Chapuis and Pichot’s collaborative project is a celebration of the beauty of natural forms, of what nature grows into without humankind’s influence. Each cloud is created by adding colored pigments to smoke including pastel pinks, vivid blues, dark greens, and creamy yellows. The duo captures the resulting colorful scene scene with a Nikon D810 camera.
The project is set in various parts of the globe including the US, Morocco, Turkey, and Norway, each of which has unique natural topography. The clouds take different forms depending on the landscape. In one photo a mustard yellow cloud resembles volcanic smoke, yet in another, a cloud looks like an peach-hued spiritual form haunting an old industrial site.
With ‘Blossom’, the artists share with Colossal that they seek to illustrate a visual manifestation of humanity’s creative impulse, and to raise awareness on the interventions of mankind in territory. “If people are absent from these photographs, their imprint is suggested among these wild natural or abandoned landscapes,” states Chapuis.
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Editor's Picks: Drawing
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