Plastiglomerate

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Plastiglomerate. e-flux 78 (December, 2016)

….”In 2012, geologist Patricia Corcoran and sculptor Kelly Jazvac travelled to Kamilo Beach, following a tip from oceanographer Charles Moore that the beach was covered in a plastic-sand conglomerate. Moore suspected nearby volcanoes were to blame. In fact, the plastic and beach detritus had been combined into a single substance by bonfires. Human action on the beach had created what Corcoran and Jazvac named “plastiglomerate,” a sand-and-plastic conglomerate. Molten plastic had also in-filled many of the vesicles in the volcanic rock, becoming part of the land that would eventually be eroded back into sand.

The term “plastiglomerate” refers most specifically to “an indurated, multi-composite material made hard by agglutination of rock and molten plastic. This material is subdivided into an in situ type, in which plastic is adhered to rock outcrops, and a clastic type, in which combinations of basalt, coral, shells, and local woody debris are cemented with grains of sand in a plastic matrix.”

More poetically, plastiglomerate indexically unites the human with the currents of water; with the breaking down, over millennia, of stone into sand and fossils into oil; with the quick substration of that oil into fuel; and with the refining of that fuel into polycarbons—into plastic, into garbage. From the primordial muck, to the ocean, to the beach, and back to land, plastiglomerate is an uncanny material marker. It shows the ontological inseparability of all matter, from the micro to the macro….”

To read the essay, go here.

image: Plastiglomerate sample/ready-made collected by geologist Patricia Corcoran and sculptor Kelly Jazvac at Kamilo Beach, Hawai’i, 2012. Photo: Kelly Wood. Courtesy of the artist.

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About Kirsty Robertson

Kirsty Robertson is an Associate Professor of contemporary art and museum studies at the University of Western Ontario.

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