artist liina klauss has teamed up with american marine scientist skye moret and german data visualization specialist moritz stefaner to create a data sculpture called ‘perpetual plastic’. realized on a beach in bali, the installation is composed of 4760 pieces of trash that were collected by volunteers during beach clean-ups.
images courtesy of liina klauss
since the early 1950s, 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced for human consumption. to understand the environmental impact of exponential plastic production, the team has visualized what happens to plastics after their first use. the data-driven work investigates our global plastic waste stream and emphasizes how mismanaged waste ends up in the ocean.
perpetual plastic was realized with a team of 50 volunteers who collected floating plastic waste in a series of beach clean-ups in bali. instead of looking for waste, the collection is done by colors, shifting perspective away from negative associations of waste to creative action. klauss explains, ‘science gives us new knowledge about the world. art gives us new perspectives how to see the world. merging the two has tremendous power.’
each color represents the different fates of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste. namely, it becomes discarded, recycled, incinerated, or some of it is still in use. the black section represents all plastic ever produced, which then fades into different colors and splits up into separate streams: the white stream shows discarded plastics, meaning disposed in landfill or unmanaged in the landscape or ocean; green is recycled plastics; red incinerated; blue still in use plastics. the width of each stream is proportional to the statistical number.
liina klauss’ practice of turning rubbish into rainbows was initially born in 2011 in hong kong. making bali her second home only fuelled her mission as the state of plastic pollution was similarly severe on the indonesian island.
‘all over the world on remote beaches, plastic pollution has become insane normality or normal insanity’, says the german artist, who has found everything from medical waste to refrigerators, to fake teeth and a buddha sculpture during her frequent coastal walks. over the past ten years, klauss has created more than 50 environmental art installations in hong kong, indonesia, taiwan, thailand and malaysia, each painted with colorful plastic trash over a canvas of sand.
while the artwork itself took 12 hours to lay out, it was on site for only 36 hours and disassembled within 6 hours. all of the flip-flops will be reused in upcoming installations. other recyclable materials are handed over to the waste management company ecobali. non-recyclables like fishing nets and toothbrushes will be deposited in landfill. perpetual plastic won national geographic’s ocean plastic innovation challenge in 2019. a short film with the same name by director eric ebner will debut in 2021.
name: perpetual plastic
location: bali, indonesia
edited by: lynne myers | designboom