The old saying “you are what you eat” generally only applies to food, right? Well, apparently not. To show us why that’s the case, Dutch artist Thijs Biersteker put together an installation called Plastic Reflectic in conjunction with Better Future Factory and Front404 for the Plastic Soup Foundation and Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant.
Each year, 19 billion pounds of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans, and tiny particles of plastic have begun making their way into some seafood. When you dive a little deeper, it becomes increasingly possible that micro and nano-scale plastic being eaten by oysters, clams and other sea critters will also wind up inside you. So, as you can see in the video above, the interactive mirror shows a real-time reflection of the person in front of it, but the reflection is made up of floating ocean trash.
“It’s like a pixel grid of 601 small floating plastic pieces,” said Biersteker.
“The ocean plastic gets pulled down underwater by a grid of 601 small waterproof engines . . . When you step in front of the infrared sensor it detects your outline and releases the plastic pieces in your exact shape.”
The plastic rearranges itself to mimic the person’s movements and “Slowly the idea of influencing this dirty, messy plastic soup comes to mind,” Biersteker says. He hopes that the exhibit inspires companies to use less plastic or design biodegradable plastic that won’t end up in landfills or the Earth’s waters. But the buck doesn’t stop there for Biersteker. He’s also working on redesigning plastic products and even helped Better Future Factory turn old car dashboard into recycled 3D printer ink on one occasion.
“The other side to reduce the plastic problem would be to create products that show how it should be done, and turn them into profitable solutions that everyone can copy,” he says.
Those of you interested in seeing the installation can do so in Amsterdam through December 18. In the meantime, we can all hope that we absorb enough random metals from our drinking water that it bonds to our skeletons and makes us all into Wolverine people… what, no?