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Art and science immersion to give the environment a voice
Plastisphere is an art installation that you can't do justice to with the essence of images alone, because you need to experience it. An immersive art exposé with projections and music to highlight the issues of waste and climate change, it is an interactive experience.
This artistic immersion was created by Laura Collins (theatre-maker), Louis Stevens (composer) and Conor Jamieson (film-maker). And supported by Climate Scientists, Alex Borowiak and Kim Reid.
I had arranged to meet Laura and a climate scientist, but I wanted to get a sense of it first. So I stood for a moment listening to the music and watching the projections, wondering about the piles of plastic.
Alex explained that the science behind climate change got solved '90's, and "now it there is a lot of doom and gloom around it, but it also looks to solve things in high resolution". Alex wanted a more positive outlook and to make it tangible in an everyday way. He said "something that most people can relate to, is that you grow up and put waste in the bin and it's become normalised, but it's not normal".
Laura told of how this concept began with a monologue she wrote about climate change. Louis recorded actors speaking the monologue then their voices were cut with images of environment and disaster which were projected. They are trying to paint a picture of understanding and hope, with everyday things that people can relate to.
This is a small visual of plastic that is left out the back of supermarkets
The first scene was piles of large plastic bags, full of plastic, illuminated with projections of images of moving bodies of water, fire and messages throughout. Alex pointed out "You might think the only waste from a can of food is the metal to be recycled, but there is also the plastic shrink wrap from the pallet. This is used to protect the packaging and to hold the boxes together. This surplus plastic is thrown out and it's scary how much plastic like this is discarded".
The intention was to highlight this because most people aren't aware of how much plastic waste there is behind the scenes because it's largely kept out of site. All the soft plastics used for these displays was collected from local businesses, in just a couple of weeks. It didn't take long because they could acquire at least 5 very large bags of plastic in one go just from the back of a supermarket.
The idea was to get a repulsive amount of plastic to make people feel it, to bring feelings into something you don't usually see or acknowledge.
In the plastic seaweed to depict the underwater world
The next scene was inspired by water and oceans, trying to create illusions of waterfalls and trickling water with plastic hanging to represent seaweed and the way plastic gets caught up in the underwater world.
The materials used came from a collection day, where they put a call out to locals to bring plastic containers, and it didn't take long to get what they needed. The library also gave CD cases because everything was being moved online and they didn't know what to do with them.
I asked if people could walk through the installation and learned that was the intention of the display. It was interesting to watch Laura and Alex walk through this because people just pulled out their cameras to catch the moment, which was a surreal experience to witness.
The final scene was centered on a dead tree that was found in the film maker's garden. It was wrapped in reused pallet plastic to represent bandages, eluding to protect it, but in effect suffocating it. The depiction is nature suffocating under the weight of plastic and human consumption, which is actually quite sad.
Actors were projected simultaneously onto plastic screens, to create an effect as though they were having a conversation. The actors represent people from the future who are trying to communicate with participants about climate change and what could happen in the future. But because there is so much uncertainty, so the message is fragmented and distorted because it's difficult to hold on to.
The tree was once a living vibrant thing, but now it is now distorted and fragmented. It had to be cut up to get through the door and it was put back together intentionally with branches facing the wrong way. The aim was for it to look natural but to highlight that it's very unnatural.
Laura was inspired by the abstract, because while people are thinking about implementing sustainable things into their lives, it's so easy to switch off emotionally from it. But she wanted to explore a way that feelings and emotions could be brought into the topic of climate change.
Laura said "the goal was to explore the fractured empathy and ability to connect to that, but then it's linked to plastic and recycling to show that it is more tangible. If we reduce our waste, it's a small thing that everyone can do to make a difference"
Alex said "this is a two way problem because supermarkets have to take responsibility, but people also have to stop buying products over-wrapped in plastic" However there is often plastic in supermarkets like the pallet wrap, that people don't see.
Little cards were given out with 5 emission reducing and 5 plastic reducing tips. A tiny bit of plastic tied to the cards, so people can hopefully remember or touch and connect to the issue. I will leave you with these images so you too can make a positive change.