Text for the video:
In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, between Hawaii and Japan, there is a new and independent country. A country without beaches, without mountains, without rivers, without soil, without ground. A country without land.
This country is made from floating islands. Only a few humans have heard of it. Even fewer have dared to journey to the island and set foot on-shore. And no explorer has yet planted a flag to claim this country.
It is a country without a name. A new white spot on the map. A new Atlantis, rising from the waters in front of our very eyes.
But this country is not foreign to us. This is not a strange place, floating just beneath the surface of our consciousness. It is the by-product of our global metabolism, a manifestation of our common culture, the results of our collective consumption.
It is – plastic.
Plastic – like the wrappers of your sweets. Plastic – like the bottle you drink your water from.
Plastic – like the toys your children play with.
Plastic – like the housing of your computer. Plastic – like the bags from your last shopping.
Plastic – like the shell of your mobile phone.
Plastic disposed over the last 50 years, since the dawn of the plastic age. A primordial plastic ocean, a perfect mixture of accumulated plastic garbage and the steady influx of new arrivals. A post-mordial soup of post-mortem consumption.
The dimensions of this plastic country are massive, and it is getting bigger every day. Every time a plastic package is bought, every time a plastic package is dumped, it contributes to the growth of the island. Now, it is already twice the size of the US, but still it is growing, still it is gaining weight, still it is gaining strength. Driven by the currents of the Pacific and trapped in its gyre, it keeps on developing, it keeps on revolving, it keeps the vortex moving.
And it is has a cloak of invisibility, it does not want to cast a shadow. It does not want to show itself yet, it prefers to stay hidden for the moment. It keeps itself just below the water surface, so that satellite images fool us into believing in a clear, blue, untouched Pacific Ocean, while the island slowly and patiently prepares to rise up.
Once it appears on the ocean surface, the heat of the sun softens the plastic and melts it down. This meltdown gives rise to fumes, to ether-like structures, to ghosts.
They will exist inside us. Each one of us will become in some part plastic. We will become plastic people. Large pieces of plastic are broken down into microscopic particles.
Micro-granular plastic is mistaken by fish, crustaceans and other sea creatures for food. But the consequences are dire. The plastic clogs their bloodstream and kills them in the most gruesome way. It replaces the building materials of their bodies. How long until nano- plastic particles are replacing the building materials of our bodies?
The island itself is like a living entity, ‘it moves around like a big animal without a leash’. It is unleashed and Big. It is big and fearless. It bites and barks. And when it barks, ‘it spits its guts over real beaches of real island, leaving a deadly confetti of shredded plastic in its wake’.
Immigrants are secretly travelling to this unknown country. They don’t need money for the ticket, they don’t need passports for border control. They are expelled from their countries of origin, but they are going to find a new place to call home. They become part of this melting pot, their brands and logos slowly fading away, their memories getting bleached by the sun. Their one-way journey might be over, but their mission is only starting. They are the foundations of a new habitat, a habitat of eternal plastic, revolving only around itself. A plastic time-capsule with all the time in the world.
They carry small maritime species collected along their journey with them. Species not supposed to belong together. Bioremixing to create lifeforms yet unknown.
A new nation is being built. The process of construction is underway. New flags will be flown across its acres, new hymns will be whistled by the passing winds, new stories of origin will be heard and told. A new nature made from cultures past. A new polymer nature from the global consumer monoculture.
A long journey is coming to an end.
After millions of years of transforming from organic matter into oil...
After decades of being drilled and probed and pumped and refined, shipped, refined again, transfomed and moulded into form...
After decades of being filled, wrapped around, stacked, carried, worn, kicked, taking on logos and marks...
After years of being shipped from one place to the next, from one country to the other... ...the ghosts are freed from the burden of attention, freed from the agony of consumption. Hollowed out, emptied of the substances and goods that were made in their ideal image. Ghosts whispering of the desires and wishes and vanities they once were signs for. After-echoes, vanishing in the distance, taking with them their meaning. Leaving behind pureness. Nothing to prove, nothing to lose, everything to be.
All rivers flow into the sea. Canals, like veins, transport the used and exhausted material forward to the source, back to the origin. An arduous journey, many miles long, many seas wide, many storms deep. Blood is flowing back to the heart and send out again, refreshed, rejuvenated, new. Plastic is flowing into a heart of darkness, no escape, no way out. Terminal. End.
Start. Beginning. Emergence as something else. No longer product, no longer object of consumption. Form without Structure, shape without meaning. Ready to be a part of a new country, a new commonwealth, a new union.
The new Atlantis.
Installation, Plastic work, text, video, photographic prints
Created during Artist in Residency at Ambient.Vista
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Beautiful Children, E:vent Gallery at V22 Wharf Road Project, London