Tag: Plastic Planet

gowanus canal toxic mud
Designed-by-Evolution

Evolutionary Janitors

We normally think of polluted water as the source of disease, not the cure for it. The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, affectionately known as the Super Fun Superfund, is one of the most polluted bodies of water in America. Most of the water is too low in oxygen to support plant or animal life. Worse still is the toxic mud at the bottom of the canal, rich in lead, dioxins, and mercury from decades of unchecked dumping from heavy industry.

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Plastic_Planet
Plastic Planet

Plastic Planet

We tend to think of plastic as a cheap, inferior and ugly material used to make children’s toys, garden furniture and throwaway bottles. But as an experiment, imagine for a moment a world in which plastic was extremely rare, like gold or platinum, and plastic objects were devastatingly expensive to produce. One would encounter plastic objects only at special occasions; one would see and touch very few plastic objects throughout one’s lifetime. I know it’s a challenge, but try to imagine, for the sake of our experiment, that plastic was scarce, available only to the happy few, and the masses lived in a world of wood, pottery and metals. Ready?

Now look around you and grab the first plastic object in your surroundings. Look at the object. Study the object. It doesn’t matter whether it is a coffee cup, a cigarette lighter, a pen or a plastic bag. This is a special moment. You are now holding one of the few, delicate pieces of plastic you will ever get to touch. Feel how durable it is. Feel how light it is considering its volume. Feel how strong and rigid it is, or how very flexible. Get a sense of how easy it must have been to mold. Understand that it could be molded into something else again. If plastic weren’t such an omnipresent material, we would realize that it is beautiful. We would realize what a disgrace it is that we throw away so much of it.

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Feed-Back

Exploring the Oceans of Plastic

Captain Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation first discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – an endless floating waste of plastic trash. Now he’s drawing attention to the growing, choking problem of plastic debris in our seas.

femkedevries1
Fake-for-Real

Fake Plastic Bags – Made From Real Leather

Fakeness is traditionally associated with inferiority; cheap Rolexes that break in two weeks, plastic Christmas trees, leaking silicone breasts, imitation caviar… However, in a society in which everything is a copy of a copy, the ‘fake’ seems to gain a certain authenticity.

Can you imagine anything more classy and luxurious than these anonymous, brand less, recognizable ‘throw away’ bags re-created in durable, high quality leather by Femke de Vries? Better than the real thing!

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Designed-by-Evolution

The Soul is a Plastic Bag

In the film Plastic Bag, the title character spends a lifetime (or more) on a quest for a creator not even aware of his existence.  A stunning short by Ramin Bahrani, director of Man Push Cart and Goodbye Solo, Plastic Bag is both a postmodern spiritual pilgrimage and an ecological fable.   It is strange, wry, and by the end it had my eyes welling up like the Deepwater Horizon.

Plastic Bag makes a fitting companion to Grizzly Man, and not just because the ponderous tones of Werner Herzog give voice to the Bag’s 18-minute monologue. Like Timothy Treadwell, the Bag is an artifact of human civilization searching an impassive world for a sublime, and entirely fictional, true connection.

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Google landscape
Anthropocene

Microbic Landscapes

Beautiful Google Maps shots of housing projects in southwest Florida. Probably designed to look and feel more natural than your average straight street neighborhood, they remind me of microbes under a microscope.
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Lawrence-Malstaf_Shrink-2
Augmented-Bodies

Shrink

You are what you eat, taken seriously. Shrink is a work by the artist Lawrence Malstaf. Visitors place themselves between two large, transparent plastic sheets. The air gets sucked out between them to leave the body vacuum-packed and vertically suspended. The transparent tube inserted between the two surfaces allows the person inside the installation to regulate the flow of air.

my-fetal-pony-MLP
Biomimicmarketing

My Fetal Pony: Neoteny in Girls’ Toys

It’s no secret that Mickey Mouse has evolved in response to consumer pressures. Once a violent river-rat, he became the boy scout of rodents with good looks to match. Steven Jay Gould famously charted Mickey’s pedomorphosis over the years.  The mouse reverted to a baby’s bigger skull, bigger eyes, and pudgier snout.

As a child of the 80s and 90s, I’ve noticed the same trend in the toy brands that once littered the floor of my suburban bedroom. Boys toys may be constrained to adult (and therefore masculine) characteristics, but girls’ toys are free to fall under the consumer pressures of the Mickey Effect.

The My Little Pony (MLP) reboot exhibits a classic retention of juvenile characteristics into adulthood, a process known as neoteny. The eyes are bigger, the face is rounder and flatter, and the body size and leg length are reduced. Compared to the more conventional equine outline of the original series, the new MLP appears based on an infant, even fetal stage of development.

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mcdewaal-nude-top
Augmented-Bodies

Becoming female

A shot of a male body after a sex change by dutch artist and photographer Martin C. de Waal. De Waal tries to make people rethink their opinions by pushing the boundaries of self-alteration. With a fascination for plastic surgery and a strong drive to reinvent himself he underwent an eight and a half hour surgery to alter his face a few years ago. – mcdewaal.com

Designed-by-Evolution

Are Mushrooms the New Plastic?

Mushroom based plastics? Designer Eben Bayer must have eaten too much of the wondrous chanterelles perhaps? No seriously, the man is turning his vision into a reality with an utterly–innovative–fungus–grown–plastics–packaging–material.

Welcome in the 21th century folks! Yet we couldn’t help noticing that Eben in his TED talk presents a very traditional, static idea of nature. Amazing that a guy who grows plastics from mushrooms gives a talk so deprived of next nature thinking (rather than seeing nature as static, we should perceive it as a dynamic force that changes along with us).

Hence, we can’t help but wonder what Eben thinks of the bugs that eat plastic – rest a sure, we applaud him nonetheless for his innovative mushroom material.