Isaac Serif's digital practice is a visual tapestry of 2000s aesthetic
by Manu SharmaApr 04, 2023
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Sukanya DebPublished on : Jan 23, 2023
It is widely known that plastic waste is a major contributor in the depletion of marine life. Plastic waste in the ocean ranges from larger plastics that pollute nearly all marine environments, to microplastics (particles that are below 5 mm in diameter) that are ingested by sea creatures and birds, shortening their life expectancies and harming their digestive systems, also embedding into the seafloor. The result is a range of physical hazards for marine life, and the ecotoxicological effects of plastic being a component in the complex food web. A science journal reports that plastic from the land to the ocean is predicted to reach 250 million metric tonnes by the year 2025. The Centre for Biological Diversity further reports that plastic in the ocean is likely to outweigh all fish, by 2050. Responding to this overwhelming ecological crisis of global scale, visual artist and designer Amith Venkataramaiah has created an AI-generated series of visual art titled Plastic Animals, speculating on marine life that exists in tandem with the exponential appearance of plastic waste in the ocean.
Oceanic waste, of course, is a man-made problem that is a direct result of industrial pollutants, lack of sustainable waste management systems, and bad policy. In the larger environmental discourse, significant blame is passed down to the consumer, who is expected time and again to reject single-use plastic, recycle (for God’s sake), and snip the six-pack rings known to suffocate sea turtles. What then remains unaddressed in mainstream conversation is the role of the industry responsible for releasing pollutants at a large scale with ineffectual waste management systems in place, that consumers have no control over. As of 2018, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, truly a sardonic insight into the absurd helplessness around environmental disaster, is claimed to occupy 1.6 million square kilometres, consisting of 45-129 thousand metric tonnes of plastic. Venkataramiah tells STIR, “We are surrounded by plastic, although developed to save the planet, plastic quickly turned into a nightmare for the ecosystem because of the pollution caused by disposable plastic waste."
A 2017 article, from the Science Advances journal looked at the ability of Larvaceans, jellyfish-like components of global zooplankton assemblages, to filter, ingest, and package a range of microplastics into their fecal pellets. The article even observed the function of vertical movements, that can sink microplastics through the weight of these pellets. For Venkataramaiah, this finding provided a trigger into a fictional world where marine life fuses itself with plastic waste, in order to survive the 'age of plastic'. The artist tells STIR, “This discovery gave me a positive insight that animals might figure out a way to deal with the abundant plastic waste and maybe even consider it as a resource."
Through Venkataramaiah’s AI-generated digital artworks, this speculative world deploys colourful plastics as a sort of defence barrier worn by aquatic creatures, including—a whale, a starfish, jellyfish, seahorse, octopus, and turtle. In the vein of science fiction, the generated image series is humorous and ingenious. An octopus incorporates a part of a plastic bottle, and other creatures make use of meshes of plastic and beer cans, some of the most common pollutants in the ocean.
Speaking with STIR, the multidisciplinary artist shares, “I have always been interested in using plastic as a medium to raise awareness about the subject of plastic pollution and its effects on marine life. I am also a fan of juxtaposing elements together to make a meaningful concept. This project was a great opportunity to explore mashing 'plastic' and 'animals' together in a seamless way, using Midjourney as the tool to generate these fictional beings.”
With the use of hybridisation between animals and plastic, Venkataramaiah produces a commentary with visualisation that supplements growing discourses around the intelligence of various life forms and the idea of 'more-than-human'. Situated in context of ecological precedence and human interventional capacities, the Plastic Animals series deploys artificial intelligence to comment on the intelligence of other species and their capacity for invention and initiation of defence, relaying a sense of agency that is presumed uncharacteristic of non-human species.
According to The Guardian, some of the organisms most affected by plastic pollution are seabirds, toothed whales, crabs, and even marine bacteria. While large-scale changes on the basis of sustainable environmental practices, with the ability to counter real threats of ecological collapse seem like a fairy-tale, at this point, Venkataramaiah’s work imagines creatures’ capability in adapting to the unnatural turn of events.
Speaking on the nature of his multidisciplinary practice, the artist says, “Having had the wonderful opportunity to work on various design, film, photography, sound, and illustration projects in the past, where each one of these practices require me to think like a designer and an artist at various stages of the work, I feel that this symbiotic relationship between design and art is important for me to make meaningful work.”
by Georgina Maddox Jun 09, 2023
French painter Francoise Gilot, who recently passed away, outgrew the shadow casted by Bluebeard and shall now be remembered for her defiant spirit and the ability to surge ahead.
by Eleonora Ghedini Jun 06, 2023
The British artist's exhibition Closer Than Before at Victoria Miro gallery in Venice shows us Carlo Scarpa’s masterpiece Tomba Brion in a new light.
by Dilpreet Bhullar Jun 05, 2023
Paris-based photographer Alexis Pichot harks on the luminosity of nature in the night to nourish a contemplative self in the face of a bustling noise of a cityspace.
by Rosalyn D`Mello Jun 02, 2023
Viewing the exhibition Niki De Saint Phalle in the company of a sea of random visitors contributed to the visceral gush the fleshy works innately evoke.
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