Five tons of plastic waste pulled out of the Pacific Ocean has been transformed into a four-storey whale for the 2018 Bruges Triennial – a stark reminder of the 150,000,000 tons of plastic waste still swimming in our waters.
The organisers of this year's arts festival commissioned Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang of StudioKCA, an award-winning architecture and design firm in Brooklyn, to create an art piece interpreting the idea of the "liquid city", a concept that defines the city as an ever-changing set of consumer transactions, whose identity is in flux as cities grow more and more connected through globalisation.
Their first thought led them to think about the biggest liquid city on the planet (the ocean), how it connects us all, and how the waste produced and consumed in our cities, specifically, plastic waste, ends up in the ocean. They proposed collecting as much plastic waste out of the sea in four months and shaping that waste into Skyscraper, a 12-metre tall whale pushing out of one of Bruges' main canals, and arching over historic Jan Van Eyck Square at the city's centre.
Skyscraper was selected along with 14 other installations proposed by a select group of international artists and architects to be brought to life for the event.
Scientists estimate there are 150 million tons of plastic trash in the ocean at any given moment, with an estimated eight million tons added every year. That means, pound for pound, there is more plastic waste from our cities swimming in the ocean than there are whales.
Jason Klimoski, Principal at Studiokca, said: "A whale, breaching from the water, is the first 'skyscraper of the sea', and as the largest mammal in the water, it felt like the right form for our piece to take in order to show the scope and scale of the problem."
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