A massive whale, constructed out of five tons of reclaimed plastic waste, is currently leaping out of a canal in Belgium as part of the 2018 Bruges Triennial. Developed by architecture and design firm STUDIOKCA, the impressive sculpture is designed to bring attention to the immense volumes of plastic waste swimming in our oceans.
The theme of the 2018 Bruges Triennial event is "liquid city" and the Brooklyn-based creative firm set out to quite literally interpret their commission by shining a light on how much waste move from our major cities into our "liquid cities", aka the ocean.
"We proposed collecting as much plastic waste out of the oceans that we could in 4 months, and shaping that waste into Skyscraper, an almost 4 story tall whale pushing out of one of Bruges' main canals, and arching over historic Jan Van Eyck Square at the city's center," the team writes describing the genesis of the project.
The firm joined forces with the Hawaii Wildlife Fund to complete several months of beach clean-ups to gather the materials for the massive sculpture. Five tons of waste was ultimately collected over four months, including everything from toilet seats to car bumpers.
This isn't the first project from the STUDIOKCA team utilizing plastic waste. A 2013 installation called Head in the Clouds was a large cloud-shaped pavilion made out of 53,780 recycled bottles. This volume of bottles equates to the amount of plastic waste generated in New York City every hour. A 2015 piece based in San Paulo was made up of the equivalent of eight minutes of plastic waste generated in Brazil.
The recent Skyscraper whale project is undoubtedly the firm's most ambitious achievement to date. Over 400 square feet of plastic waste was cleaned, sorted and attached to a wire mesh covering an aluminum and steel structure. Constructed initially in Brooklyn the piece was then disassembled into 107 parts and transported to Bruges for reconstruction on site.
As well as being an aesthetic marvel with ingenious engineering, the artwork starkly communicates the troubling volume of plastic waste swimming around our oceans. It is estimated that around 150 million tons of plastic waste are still in our oceans at this very moment, or as STUDIOKCA put it, now there are 149,999,995 tons left that need to be cleaned.
Take a closer look at the Skyscraper whale, and its construction process, in our gallery.
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