Entanglements: between nature and the synthetic.

 

Entanglements. Many of our clothes contain synthetic plastic materials such as polyester, nylon, acrylic and polyamide. Unfortunately, every time we wash these fabrics they shed millions of plastic microfibres into the wash-water. These synthetic threads are so small they drain out of our washing machines and pass straight through wastewater treatment plants and into our rivers, lakes, and eventually, into the sea, where they contribute to the overall burden of plastic pollution. Specifically,  plastic microfibers account for 85% of man-made debris found on shorelines worldwide.

 

 

Entanglements is a series of closely related works that explore and reveal the ubiquity, and impact of, microplastics in the environment. Using specialised nets,  microorganisms and plastic microfibres (because they are of a similar size) are trawled from rivers around the world and observed using sophisticated microscopy and algorithmic photography. In particular, the works explore the permanency of polluting and synthetic plastic microfibres (the unmoving coloured strings) compared with the ephemeral, and dynamic nature, of the natural microbiological life that underpins all earthly watery ecologies (the dark moving tracks). These iterations, which are autogenerative, are specifically from the rivers Thames, Wey and the Panke (Berlin) but these samples are sadly representative of all of our planet’s natural waters. 100-times magnification, DIC microscopy and algorithmic photography.

 

Catch of the Day

Duo

Large numbers of our clothes contain plastic materials such as polyester, nylon, acrylic and polyamide. Unfortunately, every time we wash these fabrics they shed millions of plastic microfibres into the wash-water. These synthetic threads are so small they drain out of our washing machines and pass straight through wastewater treatment plants into our rivers, lakes, and eventually, into the sea, where they contribute to the overall plastic pollution. Plastic microfibers account for 85% of man-made debris found on shorelines worldwide.

The diptych above shows a collection of plastic microfibres that have been isolated from Oysters and observed at 100-times magnification, using bright field and Differential Interference Contrast microscopy.