From Primordial Ooze to Plastic Soup

Turkish artist and PPC notable ambassador Pinar Yoldas on the Afterlife of Waste

The most sublime work of art on the subject of "nature" is probably the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collaborative man-made, photo-degraded sculpture of garbage currently on display in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It is a pelagic plastic swamp, a vast vortex of non-sustainable waste. Could it be art? Is it simply trash? Or is it the new nature: a man-made environment rich in evolutionary potential?

Pinar Yoldas believes it is the latter. Her mixed-media work An Ecosystem of Excess imagines the plastic vortex as a primordial soup demanding a new taxonomy: birds that subsist on plastic bottle caps (thereby adopting the colors of corporations), balloon-eating turtles, and bacteria barfing up new defenses against our polyvinyl excrement. Half–freak show, half natural history museum, Ecosystem depicts the literal afterlife of humanity’s waste, including a host of "plastivores" and other plastosensitive creatures better equipped than we are for the world we’re in the process of leaving behind.

Yoldas imagines the damage done to nature by humans may be too far gone to be subject to policy-driven repair—and the best we can do today is speculate what might happen next. She tells Guernica magazine's Ben Mauk:

The theory of how life started in the ocean is well-known: biogenesis four billion years ago, the first proteins form, the first life-forms emerge, blah blah blah, and here we are. So I asked: What would happen if life started in the ocean now? Which of course is happening anyway, since new life-forms are added to the world every day. What if new creatures emerged that could live off of plastics? I challenged myself to design a new ecosystem of plastics. Clearly I’m interested in synthetic biology as a methodology, and in where biology is headed. I see biology as ideology.

Read more at Guernica.

From primordial soup to plastic soup: In An Ecosystem of Excess, Pinar Yoldas asks: “If life started today in our plastic debris-filled oceans, what kinds of life forms would emerge.“ Top photo: Yoldas imagines organs that can metabolize plastics.


Photos courtesy of Guernica magazine and used with permission.