Stranger to the Trees

Stranger to the Trees

The multimedia project explores the complementary coexistence of microplastics and trees as carbon sinks. How do trees and microplastics coexist in forests, capturing carbon in the time of the climate crisis? Combining video, interactive sound and sculpture, the work inquires into the response of forest ecosystems to the ubiquitous and irrevocable dispersal of microplastics around the Earth.

What we consider to be our environment unequivocally and ubiquitously contains plastic. Plastics have been found to be present even at the outskirts of human reach: at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, in the rain, clouds and atmosphere. While plastic can be detrimental to the quality of an ecosystem, plastic pollution is also a carbon sink, storing carbon and keeping carbon dioxide and methane out of the atmosphere. But is the carbon sink itself an embodiment of industrial processes that contribute to the climate crisis in competition with or complementary to forests? By what processes will they come together? This project builds on ongoing artistic research by Dr Kat Austen (UK/DE) on the topics of microplastics and the climate crisis.

This work was realised within the framework of the European Media Art Platforms (EMAP) programme at WRO Art Center (PL) with support of the Creative Europe Culture Programme of the European Union.

Photo by Roger Pimenta
Kat Austen

In her artistic practice, Kat Austen focusses on environmental issues. She melds disciplines and media, creating sculptural and new media installations, performances and participatory work. Austen’s practice is underpinned by extensive research and theory, and driven by a motivation to explore how to move towards a more socially and environmentally just future. Austen has exhibited and performed around the globe at renowned Galleries, Museums, Festivals, and her work is held internationally in private collections.