Since the early 1950s, the world has produced about 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic. About 60 percent of that plastic has ended up in either a landfill or the natural environment. Seeking to put that mind-boggling about of plastic waste into perspective, artist Iiina Klaus has teamed up with marine scientist Skye Moret and data visualization specialist Moritz Stefaner to create a data sculpture called Perpetual Plastic.
The project took place on a beach in Bali, where the artist created an art installation out of 4,760 pieces of trash collected by volunteers during beach clean-ups. To understand the environmental burden of exponential plastic production, the team has visualized what happens to plastics after their first use. As such, the data-driven art piece investigates our global plastic waste stream and puts the spotlight on how harmful mismanaged waste is for the ocean.
Perpetual Plastic was put together with the help of a team of 50 volunteers who collected floating plastic waste in a series of beach clean-ups in Bali. As noted by designboom, instead of looking for waste, the collection is done by colors, shifting perspective away from connotations of waste to creative action. “Science gives us new knowledge about the world. art gives us new perspectives on how to see the world. merging the two has tremendous power,” explains Klauss.
Each color represents the different fates of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste. The white stream shows discarded plastics (which either end up in landfills or the environment); green is recycled plastics; red depicts incinerated plastics; blue is plastic that’s still in use. The width of each stream is proportional to the statistical number.
The artwork itself took 12 hours to lay out, but it remained on site for only 36 hours. According to the artist, all of the flip-flops in the collections will be reused in upcoming installations, while other recyclable materials are handed over to a local waste management company.