In June 2013, as part of the Gyre project, an international team of scientists, artists and educators launched an expedition to study marine debris in southwest Alaska. Howard Ferren of the Alaska SeaLife Center led the expedition, along with scientist Carl Safina, the founding president of Blue Ocean Institute. The expedition also included representatives from the Smithsonian Institution, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Geographic, Alaska Marine Stewardship Foundation, Anchorage Museum and Ocean Conservancy. Andy Hughes, Mark Dion, Pam Longobardi, Karen Larson traveled aboard the The R/V Norseman from Resurrection Bay along the Kenai Peninsula coast to Shuyak and Afognak islands.

A unique and worlds first art and science exhibition, Gyre: The Plastic Ocean, brought the problem into perspective with an exhibition, book and film that explored the complex relationship between humans and the ocean in a contemporary culture of consumption. For decades artists have created works that address the relationship between community and environment. In the later part of the 20th century, artists gave a voice to the environment. Artists such as Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer, Christo and Jeanne-Claude and others became interested in the social value of art, the Gyre project follows this concept, what results is a remarkable visual narrative and a provocative look at the impact we each have on our world.

Project funders included: Anchorage Museum Association, Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, Giles W. and Elise G. Mead Foundation, Leonard and Tannie Hyde, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Endowment for the Arts, North American Marine Environment Protection Association, Ocean Foundation, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Surdna Foundation, Wells Fargo,The William Randolph Hearst Foundation


From the series Plastik AlaskaLocation: Hallo Bay, Alaska | Media: C-Type LightJet Print 30 x 40 Inches | POA

Hallo Bay is located approximately 120 miles southwest of Homer, Alaska on the remote Pacific Coast of the Alaska Peninsula. The Alaska Peninsula is a part of an area called “The Ring of Fire” a volcanically active chain of volcanoes located on the leading edge of the Pacific Tectonic Plate.

From the series Plastik AlaskaLocation: Hallo Bay, Alaska | Media: C-Type LightJet Print 30 x 40 Inches | POA

From the series Plastik AlaskaLocation: Hallo Bay, Alaska | Media: C-Type LightJet Print 30 x 40 Inches | POA

Plasticstone ( Plastiglomerate) is the term used to describe mixtures of sedimentary grains, and other natural debris (e.g. shells, wood) that is held together by hardened molten plastic. It has been considered a potential marker of the Anthropocene, an informal epoch of the Quaternary proposed by some social scientists, environmentalists, and geologists. In 1990 Andy Hughes discovered similar unusual material whilst studying in Lisbon, Portugal it felt and looked like ‘plastic rock’. More work with this materila can be seen here (Plastic Rocks)

'I name this object ‘Plasteroid.’ It is a fine example of the subset of mysterious objects that are formed in various unknown processes of ‘volcanization’ or incineration. As with most specimens of this nature, it is an attempt to make plastic ‘disappear’ by making it unrecognizable. The incineration process itself does even more harm than the plastic on its own can: it releases toxic airborne chemicals, and as is evident, the plastic blob still survives in a new mutated form'.

Pam Longobardi | Artist, Activist

See the page plastiglomerate...

From the series Plastik AlaskaLocation: Hallo Bay, Alaska | Media: C-Type LightJet Print 30 x 40 Inches | POA

Title: Midnight Sunlit Ball of Matter

From the series Plastik AlaskaLocation: Hallo Bay, Alaska | Media: C-Type LightJet Print 30 x 40 Inches | POA

'Matter movement, matter energy, matter in variation that enters assemblages and leaves them'.

Bennet, J (2010) Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Duke University Press

From the series Plastik AlaskaLocation: Blue Fox Bay, Alaska | Media: C-Type LightJet Print 30 x 40 Inches | POA

Blue Fox Bay Lodge is located on northwest corner of Afognak Island, the second largest island in the Kodiak Archipelago in the Gulf of Alaska.

From the series Plastik AlaskaLocation: Shuyak Island, Alaska | Media: C-Type LightJet Print 30 x 40 Inches | POA

From the series Plastik AlaskaLocation: Hallo Bay, Alaska | Media: C-Type LightJet Print 30 x 40 Inches | POA

From the series Plastik AlaskaLocation: Shuyak Strait, Alaska | Media: C-Type LightJet Print 30 x 40 Inches | POA

From the series Plastik AlaskaLocation: Hallo Bay, Alaska | Media: C-Type LightJet Print 30 x 40 Inches | POA

From the series Plastik AlaskaLocation: Blue Fox Bay, Alaska | Media: C-Type LightJet Print 30 x 40 Inches | POA

'In this open landscape, where nature creates no straight lines, one saw-cut stump represents every possible intrusion. An axe meets its chopping block, its iron head closed to all other ideas, bloodied with the thrust of the only work it knows: to reduce the world. The thin leading edge of the wedge of us is all it takes. It takes all. But how will we learn to take what we need while leaving more than what we’ve taken ?'

Carl Safina | Author, Ecologist, Broadcaster

From the series Plastik AlaskaLocation: Gore Point, Alaska | Media: C-Type LightJet Print 30 x 40 Inches | POA

'Object of Curiosity Visitation from a world less natural than the beach on which it stands. Totemic. Emissary of a lineage that carpeted the landscape with synthetic remnants of life and habits. Enduring as the great pyramids. We made this and are satisfied with its presence in lands of remote grandeur as well as the cutters in our cluttered streets. My brain cross-wiresbetween the facts of science, our technical achievements, the desperate global impacts of our wasteful habits, and the creative use of material for art and interpretation. Facts are sufficient; science unveiling; art inspirational. We know enough to see that this is wrong. We cannot blend the synthetic with the natural and assume all is in balance. The Emissary stands vigil and awaits change. If not, more will come ashore and the balance tip further toward the untenable'.

Howard Ferren | Gyre Project Expedition Leader

From the series Plastik AlaskaLocation: Gore Point, Alaska | Media: C-Type LightJet Print 30 x 40 Inches | POA

'Imagine a beach in a place where no one cleans up; a location absent of the chamber of commerce, public sanitation workers, Girl and Boy Scout troops, environmental do-gooders and desperate scavengers. Year after year the ocean belches the Anthropocene on the shores. Most of this is plastic, and most of that is discarded fishing gear and other artifacts of maritime industries and of course household refuse. This stuff migrates beyond the tide line or gets tangled and fixed in the beach’s log jams and rocks. The wind blows the styrofoam and lighter material deep into the forests, salt marshes and coastal planes.The high tide wrack line contains tens of thousands of bottle caps, cigarette lighters, plastic straws, and bottles. Much of thematerial here is broken down and too small to see in a causal glimpse. This is the really precious stuff. Within a decade the beach is covered in two meters of debris anchored so firmly in net and line that not even a hurricane can dislodge it. This island is real'.

Mark Dion

Plastika Alaska Zine  [sold out]

FURTHER INFORMATION: GYRE: THE PLASTIC OCEAN | DEDICATED MUSEUM WEBSITE

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