HYBRID MATTERs is a two year Nordic art&science network program which investigates matters that emerge in a digital and postindustrial era. As part of this research project we invite to a series of events where we engage with two hybrid matters that are related to plastics – plastiglomerates and worms that can biodegrade styrofoam.
Plastiglomerate walks and making
The first events are a series of walks in Iceland and Finland where we look for plastiglomerates which is a stone that consist of both plastic and stone. The term plastiglomerates was first coined by geologists, who had found this hybrid matter on beaches in Hawaii. They call it a marker of the anthropocene, which refers to humans as a strong force in nature and on nature, so strong that it is now even noticeable in geology.
During our walks explorations have been centred around what makes these hybrid matters come into being and what futures they might become part of. It has become obvious that they are produced by a combination of different kinds of activities, materialities and forces such as use of disposable plastic containers, fishing industry, currents that transport plastic debris around the world, bonfires, lack of recycling and much more.
Now that it is recognised that there is a lot of plastics around, what to do with it? It has been known that humans and nonhumans, cockroaches for example, as well as sharks and birds, eat various kinds of plastics on purpose or unintentionally. Most of the time plastics disintegrate and become more and more fragmented into microplastics. One particular kind of plastics, styrofoam, had not been seen to biodegrade until some researchers found that common mealworm can do it.
Inspired by this new finding we hosted one event in Copenhagen where we explore domestic composting of plastics with the help of common mealworms. Further explorations on composting plastics will take place during 2016.
These public engagement events are steps towards a contribution to the HYBRID MATTERs exhibition that will travel around the Nordic countries during 2016.
This work is financed by Nordic Culture Fund, Malmö University and Umeå University