photos: corey rankin (top left) gleen locklee (bottom left, right)

The thermoplastic polymer, polystyrene, is a ubiquitous artificial material used in the manufacture of tens of millions of consumer products worldwide - from disposable coffee cups and packaging, to building insulation and explosives.

It is also a major environmental pollutant and significant threat to marine life including mammals, fishes and birds. The factors that make it so broadly useful - lightweight, inert, low material to volume ratio - make it uneconomic for recycling, and so it accumulates as waste rather than entering industrial recycling and reuse chains.

In the creation of unbleached Ferracin laboriously, patiently, threaded polystyrene beads - the form most dangerous to ocean dependent life - to create ghostly skeletal starburst forms reminiscent of algae, seaweeds, molecular diagrams, or the devastating global phenomena of coral bleaching. It takes on average 75 minutes to create each form. During a recent coastal camping trip with a group of artist colleagues, others decided to help Ferracin by each making a ‘creature’.

Presented within a simple timber box reminiscent of the tiny theatre of the home aquarium, the assembled colony of pseudo- organisms is animated by projected video of those same minuscule flying insects chasing about in forest sunlight. Here, that brief ephemeral encounter is presented as a ritual talismanic offering of hopefulness.

This humble space, almost hidden from view, discoverable by the curious visitor, is bathed in blue light and enlivened by underwater sound recordings to remind us of the hidden depths of the ocean, to bring to mind the beauty of life there and our shared responsibility to work toward a future with less anthropocentric pollution.

text: gary warner

watch video