What does a collection of plastic shopping bags have to do with choreographing a dance? For me there was a powerful connection—and in this post I want to explain how a material we associate with waste richly fueled a creative process. Continue reading
Current Biology. 2019 Vol. 29, No. 19: R942–R1054.
This special issue of Current Biology includes a collection of Features, Reviews, Primers, Essays and Quick guides on a wide range of topics surrounding various detrimental impacts of human activity on the biosphere.
For most biologists, inhabiting the Anthropocene also means working in it. There are very few topics in the life sciences that are not confronted with Continue reading
I am currently in China as I start to write this. A student who was accompanying me as I visited a University brought up Continue reading
Let me emphasize something from the start: I mean “small r” republican—this post (and another to follow) will have nothing to do with the “capital r” American political party. I’ll consider some ideas associated with Continue reading
ArchaeoGLOBE Project*. 2019 Science 365(6456):897–902.
Environmentally transformative human use of land accelerated with the emergence of agriculture, but the extent, trajectory, and implications of these early changes are not well understood. An empirical global assessment of land use from 10,000 years before the present (yr B.P.) to 1850 CE reveals a planet largely transformed by Continue reading
Humans are currently producing about 100 pounds of plastic per person per year on this planet (~250 pounds the US) and at the current rate of increase that number will be Continue reading
One of my earliest memories as a freshman at UCLA took place in the front row of a cavernous, wood-paneled lecture hall equipped with a black-topped resin demonstration table. The class was Introductory Geology, and the professor a bearded, pony-tailed free spirit giddy with the anticipation of Continue reading
Written in collaboration with Tomoko Yoshida.
Plastic has become an integral part of our lives…. But with that has emerged the enormous—and growing—problem of plastic waste. Continue reading
I actually prefer plastic as a material because it is a material for our times. It represents the now. Ironically it is also ‘archival’, meaning in terms of its longevity it lasts over 100 years. This means that for art, it is a great material.
Claudia Hart (artist/sculptor), “Resolution, Reification,
and Resistance,” 3d Additivist Cookbook.
Not so long ago I had a conversation with a respected curator and gallery director about my research on Continue reading
In 2016, the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board (OERB) published the fourth volume of its “Petro Pete” series of illustrated children’s books. To promote Petro Pete’s Big Bad Dream, K-2 classes throughout the state were invited Continue reading
This coming June, I will give a talk at the “Art in the Anthropocene” conference at Trinity College, Dublin about the sculptural theory of the German artist Joseph Beuys. I will discuss the theory’s implications for the politics and ethics of human action in the Anthropocene, implications imbricated with accusations that Beuys, a pilot in the Luftwaffe during World War II, harbored fascist tendencies in his working methods, which often involve the marshaling of large numbers of people in projects that Beuys grouped under the rubric “social sculpture.” Key for this talk, and for this post, will be a remark Beuys made in 1975 about plastic, so I wanted to use the occasion of this post to further some of my thinking about Beuys, particularly where it most intersects with our present focus on plastic.
Ubiquitous plastic in the environment is a hallmark of the Anthropocene (Waters et al. 2016). Wildlife routinely ingest, becoming entangled in, and are impaired by plastic pollution, creating a pressing global problem (e.g., Vegter et al. 2014). While undoubtedly an environmental crisis, these acute impacts are not my focus. I am interested in a more subtle phenomenon: Continue reading
What are plastics?
All plastics are composed of carbon atoms connected to one another in a chain-like structure, with mostly or exclusively hydrogen atoms attached to the carbon atoms. Gasoline, candle wax and plastics all have this same structure; gasoline has Continue reading