The Contaminant was intended to address the world that we have created within the last 100 years in relation to petrochemicals, their use and the consequences of such use. Through showing imagined plastic based microorganisms, the breadth of ecosystem alteration can be imagined. As plastic particles have managed to get into even the most minute or obscure environments we need to use this as a cautionary tale and take the time to acknowledge what we have done and learn from it.
"Plastic waste has been documented in nearly all types of marine environments and has been found in species spanning all levels of marine food webs. Within these marine environments, deep pelagic waters encompass the largest ecosystems on Earth."
Anela Choy, C., Robison B., H., Gagne, T., O., Erwin, B., Firl, E., Halden, R., U., Andrew Hamilton, J., Katija, K., Lisin, S., E., Rolsky, C., & Van Houtan, K., S., (2019). The vertical distribution and biological transport of marine microplastics across the epipelagic and mesopelagic water column. Scientific Reports. Springer Nature Limited. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44117-2
Image above: Prepping to photograph plastic items in the studio
To document these “creatures” I took ordinary plastic objects and photographed them at specific angles against a black background with a strong bokeh to give them a lifelike appearance. To create the studio setup I used a single large light with the barn doors almost fully open and angled, faced up towards the ceiling. The object sat on a seamless black background and a Macro lens was used to give depth and capture the close up details of the objects. Images were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR camera, using ISO 125, f/2.8, 100mm, 1/6sec, taken approximately 1 foot from the objects and 1 foot high. Each object was made more consistent with the next while creating a more organic imagined feel, through mild color alteration. These 6 images were then to be displayed on a wall behind rectangular panes of glass made to look like microscope slides, each titled with their image numbers as if they were a numbered microscopic species ready to be examined.