Inspired by scientific exploration of the Great Garbage Patch
in theNorth Pacific Gyre,
artist Anna Helper
has created extraordinary huge, haunting and disturbing translucent
structures from plastic waste from a local salvage yard. Her woven
cloud-like mass, called The Gyre, was displayed at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art.A story in The Scientist by Katherine Bagley
describes and illustrates Helper's work, and explains she is using many of the same materials to create a new exhibit for the Portland Museum of Art
that will be called Great Haul.
Helper says in The Scientist
story she has always been fascinated by the color and translucence of
plastic, and the work inspired by the island of garbage has disorienting
beauty. Her work Intricate Universe
shows her fascination with swarms, which might be birds, insects or even plastic particles in water.
have another view of the plastics and other garbage that are forming a
growing floating Pacific ocean mass twice the size of Texas. The Environmental Grafiti blog by Robin Bennett
explains how American yachtsman Charles Moore
the island of trash. Gyres are ocean regions where ocean currents are
slowed by minimal winds and high pressure weather systems. They are
spots of deadly doldrums where, as Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"
a doomed sailing vessel was "As idle as a painted ship, Upon a painted
ocean." Coleridge also captured the ghastly image of refuse caught and
trapped by converging currents.Yes slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon a slimy sea.
About, about, in reel and rout,
'The Death-fires danced at night.
The water, like a witch's oils,
Burnt green, and blue and white.
North Pacific Gyre has grown faster than global warming models have
predicted, and plastic waste from the U.S. and Asia now makes up 80
percent of the trash mass collecting in that ocean region. Other ocean
gyres are gathering trash, but the North Pacific mass seems to be the
largest. The millions of tons of plastic don't degrade, but they do
break into tiny pieces that are beginning to replace eroding rock as a
source of sand. They are alsoenteringthe food chain as creatures
absorb and ingest them Bennett points out in his blog that these
plastics are reaching the human food supply, with consequences that
aren't yet understood. Nineteen of 21 species of Albatross
bird the Ancient Mariner was cursed for killing-are among the creatures
endangered today in part because of the plastic trash. When the birds ingest plastic particles,
the space in their stomachs needed for food for their chicks is
reduced. The mariner was redeemed, but the future of the great wasteland
of trash is unknownand the possibilities for clean-up
are not encouraging.