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Documentary Photography

An Insightful Short Film Follows a 90-Year-Old Fisherman Who Clears Plastic from Bali's Coasts

August 6, 2021

Grace Ebert

Each day, 90-year-old Wayan gathers his nets and mesh sacks and sets his small boat out on the coast of Bali. The jewel-toned waters used to be a prime location for fishing, a profession Wayan practiced throughout childhood and continued for decades, but today, instead of reeling in massive catches and struggling to drag them back to shore, he’s finding an overabundance of disposable containers and garbage where the once-thriving marine populations used to live—some reports estimate that there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.

In her impactful short film “Voice Above Water,” San Francisco-based director Dana Frankoff visits Wayan at his coastal home and chronicles his adapted routine: rather than harvesting food for his family and community, he scoops up wrappers, bottles, and other refuse and carries the discarded material back to the beach for recycling. “The story is a glimpse into how one human is using his resources to make a difference and a reminder that if we all play our part we can accomplish something much greater than ourselves,” Frankoff says.

“Voice Above Water” is the director’s debut film, and you can follow her work on Vimeo. (via Laughing Squid)

 

 

 



Photography

A Colorful Macro Photo of Beach Sand Reveals Infinitesimal Fragments of Coral, Quartz, Shells, and Plastic

July 29, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Macrofying, shared with permission

A stunning macro image by Ole Bielfeldt lays out the individual elements that comprise a dusting of sand from a Mallorca beach, revealing a piece of microplastic embedded within the colorful composition. “Although to the naked eye this looks like very clean natural sand, pieces of microplastic, as seen in the last image, can be found when viewed under the microscope,” says the Cologne-based photographer, who works as Macrofying. The prevalence of the tiny pollutants is especially high on Mediterranean coasts, meaning seemingly pristine beaches comprised of quartz, seashells, and coral debris are often riddled with the manufactured material.

Bielfeldt is known for zooming in on the otherwise unseen details of common goods and natural substances, which he shares in an extensive archive on Instagram and YouTube. “My work has definitely shaped my view on everyday objects. After exploring so many different samples, you get a new feeling for your environment and start to understand how some things work. There’s a complete and amazing little universe hidden right before our eyes,” he says. (via Twisted Sifter)

 

 

 



Art Food

'Fake Food, Real Garbage': A Satirical Store is Fully Stocked with Groceries Made Entirely of Plastic

July 7, 2021

Grace Ebert

Photo by Tony Lewis. All images courtesy of UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, shared with permission

Wander into a new pop-up grocery store in Downtown Los Angeles, and you’ll find all of the typical options with an unusual twist: freezers stocked with tubs of “Bag & Jerry’s,” a robust produce section with bananas and tomatoes printed with advertisements, and mysteriously gray “polluted sausage” stuck to styrofoam trays.

Dubbed “The Plastic Bag Store,” the witty and satirical installation is the project of Robin Frohardt, who repurposed scores of bottle caps, packaging, and other single-use materials into a full-fledged grocery. Each of the non-edible items—many of which have undergone clever rebrands, meaning you’ll find family-sized boxes of Yucky Shards cereal, cases of Bagorade bottles, and clamshells of Earthbag Farms non-organic spring mix in the aisles—is made entirely with discarded waste that the Brooklyn-based artist, puppet-maker, and designer collected from garbage bins and trash sites.

 

Photo by Bailey Holiver

Paired with a performative component that envisions how future generations will interpret the inordinate amount of waste produced in today’s world, the installation literally displays the longevity of the items many of us use on a daily basis. According to recent estimations, the amount of plastic in the ocean is predicted to exceed the volume of fish by 2050, an ongoing crisis Frohardt wants to make more apparent. “’The Plastic Bag Store’ is a visually rich and humorous experience that hopefully encourages a different way of thinking about the foreverness of plastic, the permanence of the disposable and that there is no ‘away’ when we throw something out,” she says.

The grocery, which debuted in Times Square last fall with the tagline “Fake Food, Real Garbage,” is open at UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance through July 11. You can find more of Frohardt’s projects, many of which critique mass consumerism and capitalism through a humorous lens, on her site and Instagram. (via Hyperallergic)

 

Photo by Bailey Holiver

Photo by Bailey Holiver

Photo by Maria Baranova

Photo by Tony Lewis

Photos by Maria Baranova

Photo by Maria Baranova

Photo courtesy of Rundle Mall

 

 



Design Food

Spoon Archaeology: A Color-Coded Exhibition Casts Plastic Cutlery as Artifacts of Another Era

June 28, 2021

Grace Ebert

Images via the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, shared with permission

Coinciding with the European Union’s ban on plastic cutlery slated for July 3, two industrial designers decided to combine their collections for a broad study of the ubiquitous utensil. The ongoing project of Peter Eckart and Kai Linke, Spoon Archaeology is an expansive display of approximately 1,400 pieces of disposable flatware that the pair amassed throughout two decades. Containing typical cutlery and more niche tools like ice cream tasters and cocktail forks, the archive is arranged by color, shape, and purpose in glass cases reminiscent of anthropological studies, relegating the once-commonplace objects to the realm of outdated curiosity.

At once a playful rainbow display of unique design objects and critical indictment of consumerism, Spoon Archaeology, which closed this weekend at the London Design Biennale, is a testament to the pervasiveness of plastics in contemporary society. The designers hope the scope of the collection prompts questions about the impact of single-use items on the environment. “As disposable products, they are mass-produced, cheap, easy to transport, and can be disposed of just as easily as they have been used. Ultimately, they are a symbol of our globalized logistics and throwaway culture,” Eckart told It’s Nice That, noting that the exhibition also marks a larger change in “significant factors in our table and dining culture as well as in the history of technology.”

To make the archive more accessible, Eckart and Linke started an Instagram account dedicated to Spoon Archaeology, where they plan to share more images from the collection in addition to news about where it’s headed next. They also created a color-coded print shown below that lays out a portion of their lot, which you can purchase via email or download for free here. (via Core 77)

 

 

 



Animation

A Satirical New Animation by Greenpeace Swamps Boris Johnson in a Gushing Sea of Plastic

May 19, 2021

Grace Ebert

Greenpeace’s new campaign opens with a single bottle bouncing off Boris Johnson’s head mid-press conference before a waterfall of plastic overwhelms the prime minister and carries him out to the street. The satirical and pressing animation pours the equivalent of the 1.8 million kilograms of waste the U.K. sends to other countries each day into Downing Street, which topples Johnson and Michael Gove as it literally engulfs the British political landscape.

Wasteminster: A Downing Street Disaster” is the organization’s latest effort to put pressure on the government to enact new policies around recycling and the environment. “Much of (the plastic waste) ends up illegally dumped or burnt, poisoning local people and polluting oceans and rivers,” says Greenpeace U.K. political campaigner Sam Chetan-Welsh. “The government could put a stop to this but so far Boris Johnson is only offering half measures. We need a complete ban on all plastic waste exports and legislation to make U.K. companies reduce the amount of plastic they produce in the first place.”

Conceptualized and produced by Studio Birthplace alongside Park Village, the short film lifts actual quotes from interviews and speeches made by Johnson and the U.K. government, many of which boast about the nation’s success in combatting pollution. While the 3D figures resemble Johnson and Gove, directors Jorik Dozy and Sil van der Woerd say they’re not identical in order to “introduce some distance to these real politicians. After all, they are only dummies. Our intention was not to ridicule politicians, but to place their dummy-personas in a direct conflict with the invisible consequences of their own actions.”

Read more about Greenpeace’s initiative and the film’s production process, which involved lengthy research and the help of CG producers Method & Madness, on Studio Birthplace’s site.

 

 

 



Animation

The Beauty: A Poignant Animated Short Film Reimagines Plastic Waste as Ocean Life

March 24, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Simultaneously stunning and filthy” is how director Pascal Schelbli describes his 2019 short film “The Beauty.” A cautionary reimagining of the world’s rampant plastic pollution, the arresting animation reenvisions waste as lively sea life: a bubble-wrap fish puffs up, a serpentine tire glides through the water, and an entire school of discarded footwear swims in an undulating mass.

As it plumbs the vast expanse of the littered ocean, “The Beauty” magnifies the enduring nature of waste and lays bare the insidious effects of microplastics as they enter the food chain and impact the overall health of the ecosystem. In a statement, Schelbli describes the motivation behind the film, which won a Student Academy Award in 2020:

Instead of showing another mournful stomach full of plastic bags, I thought, ‘what if plastic could be integrated into the sea life and nature solves the problem?’ The film should take you on a journey, where all our feelings of guilt will disappear. But in the end, we wake up and realize that we need to change something.

To see more of the Zürich-based director’s poignant animations, check out his Vimeo and Instagram, and watch a recent Last Week Tonight segment that dives further into the crisis and explains how recycling isn’t the best solution.

 

 

 

A Colossal

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Sailing Ship Kite