Comments 8

  1. Hi Gala, thanks for an engaging presentation full of stunning artworks that tackle issues surrounding plastics.

    I wondered if you had seen the comment below from Max Liboiron (originally on this panel: that discusses Chris Jordan’s work, and what your thoughts are in terms of how the aesthetic power of eco-art can also be misleading?

    Hi Sven,
    Nice to hear from you again! I think a major part of feminist science is to be able to articulate problems in all of their scientific, social, economic, and technical complexity. That includes ingestion. The Jordan photos are hyper-legible and seem to say that consumer waste (such as litter) kills birds. Except plastics don’t kill birds, especially albatross (there are many studies on this– excerpts from some below), and consumer actions won’t impact plastic pollution at any scale that matters to the problem. Some people might say that any publicity is good publicity, except we are firm that articulating the problem in certain ways simultaneously articulates certain solutions and not others. Actions that deal with industry, with endocrine disruptors, etc are left out of the Jordan photos. They’re very charismatic, but they are also misleading. Since plastics are a new form of pollutant, paying close attention to how they cause harm is crucial to intervening in the problem in a way that actually impacts the problem.

    Best regards,

    “In a study on Sand Island, Midway Atoll, in 1987, no Laysan Albatross chick deaths, impactions or ulcerations in proventricular [stomach] linings were attributed to ingested plastic” (Sileo el al. 1990).
    In a 14 year study of plastic ingestion by seabirds, “we found no evidence that seabird health was affected by the presence of plastic, even in species containing the largest quantities,” including albatross (Moster & Lee 1992- north atlantic seabirds (1975-1989)).
    An experiment that fed plastics to petrels “suggest[ed] that plastic does not hamper digestive efficiency” (Ryan and Jackson 1987).
    “[T]he results are not evidence of a cause-and-effect link between plastic ingestion with chick death. While it is possible that the death of healthy chicks may result from ingested plastic, it is also possible that unhealthy chicks eat greater amounts of plastic from the ground as a result of their poor condition” (Auman 1997)

  2. A comment for @SY TAFFEL, Max Liboiron, and my co-panelists to get a little more granular:
    Consider: the pictures are not misleading (they are affective, and therefore effective); the captions, grounding the photos as journalism are misleading?

    (If there is one thing I lament about this format, not enough attention was paid in the design of the conference to tag people, call attention to, and otherwise make the online world in some way get up-close, responsive and personal, the way conferences in person do!!!)

    1. Hi Marina, thanks for your thought provoking comment. I don’t really know much about the science relating to the health impacts of albatrosses ingesting plastic, but I thought there was an interesting connection to make between the various presentations here that have covered Chris Jordan’s work – and the range of contributors that have engaged with Jordan’s work does illustrate how iconic and affectively powerful those images are.

      I agree with you that there’s a lot more that could and probably should be done to help make those connections between participants, panels and themes in this conference. It would be great to hear suggestions of things that could be done to improve this, either here or for similar online events in the future.

      1. I think being really clear about tagging and calling out to people who might not be looking for comments in that way would help.
        I think moving a discussion to a forum outside of the videos with a moderator also could be of use.
        I wonder if having some cocktail hours – even with the time difference- could help – using google hang outs or facebook options?

        For the future! there are students at ITP where I teach who might be interested in developing the UX for such a thing.

      2. Thank you very much for your comments. Unfortunately, I did not see it until yesterday! So I do not know how effective will be my answer after son much time.
        We thank Max Liboiron for the papers he offers and I think this information is useful, nonetheless in this case we probably need to use something more than science to analyze the problem. First of all we don’t think that Chris Jordan works denounce only the impact of consumer decisions, of course that approach is limited and it is very important to keep in mind the role of industries and politics in plastic pollution. We cannot believe that consumer decisions are free and unmotivated, so it is basic not to blame the consumer alone. But we do not see any of this in Chris Jordan’s works.
        If we talk about the impact of plastics in birds health, even if we can probe that this impact is none, we can all agree that birds, mammals or humans should not eat plastic instead of food. So, to analyze the impact of plastics in marine habitats we should use ethics, aesthetics… and not science alone because as we all know science alone cannot create ethics. That is the function of environmental humanities, so in the environmental humanities context there is no enough to propose some papers to demonstrate that something is, actually, harmless. The plastic pollution impact goes further from that. For example, I can see tires in the bottom of the sea when I swim underwater. That is probably harmless for me but it does not mean that it has no impact in myself.

  3. Hi Gala and Hernando. Thank you for your presentation. I wonder how we can get more of this affective and effective art out into the public experience? That is to say, out of art exhibitions (where art appreciators and those already with a certain concern for the environment will attend) so that we can see more art as we move through our daily lives in urban, rural, coastal spaces. I know there is a growing number of ecoartists who do this but do any of these artists or do you know of any others who present their work specifically related to plastic in this way in urban spaces? I would love to add to my list so that I can share more of this in my urban political ecology course. I would also love some more ideas to bring to our city council as well.

    1. Dear Trisia:

      We cannot offer that information about our artists but in the case of Sebastiao Salgado, who also denounces ecological problems, we attended to an exhibition in Segovia (a city near Madrid) in which the pannels where settled on the streets with a very simple and interesting message for every audience. You can see more pictures in here:

  4. Hi Marina. I just loved your presentation. Can you speak to how you, Ruth, and Maureen developed the idea for the book and your collaboration process?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *