Warmth, Giant Black Toobs

More than a billion tons of trash are dumped into the ocean every year. Oceanographers have found a swirling miasma of consumer plastics—plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic toys—the size of Texas in the pacific ocean. Plankton, fish, birds, and marine mammals all ingest these plastics (and the chemicals they contain and leach), which in turn we ingest. Scientists are just beginning to research the long-term ways in which the chemicals used to make plastic interact with biochemistry, uncovering how plastics not only affect planetary health but are also linked to cancer, diabetes, and endocrine malfunctions. As Andy Warhol said, we are indeed (and literally) all becoming plastic.

In Warmth, Giant Black Toobs, I use solar power and ambient breezes to give life to the ever-present black plastic garbage bag. Towering garbage bags, aka “Toobs,” are inflated by the wind and then staked to the ground. The air inside each Toob is heated by the sun producing buoyancy, movement and transforming this symbol of consumption and waste into kinetic, seemingly sentient creatures—live plastic hybrids whose choreography brings to mind the very sea creatures our epoch’s mass of waste affects.

Since 2008 I have traveled throughout the US installing this work in public green spaces.