(photo taken from Chris Jordan’s series from the Midway Atoll on how disposable plastic is killing seabirds.)
Swirling like Jupiter’s eye in the middle of the Pacific ocean is a lost land.
Its landscape and topography are unlike that of any known in the solar system. Bright colours. Strange edges. It has been conferred immortality by its makers, and will outlive all civilisations on Earth.
It is ridges of pelagic plastics and gullies of chemical sludge. It spans an area the size of Texas.
It is not Atlantis. It is the Pacific Trash Vortex.
First predicted in 1988 – with an accuracy that correctly guessed even where it would materialise – by 1997 the Pacific Trash Vortex was a reality. A great expanse of plastic garbage that even when ground down into particle level remains stubbornly infinite and non-biodegradable.
The smaller the plastics get the – fatally – easier they are for consumption by birds, turtles and whatever other marine life is clinging desperately onto life in that floating wasteland.
“For me,” writes photographer Chris Jordan, “kneeling over their carcasses is like looking into a macabre mirror. These birds reflect back an appallingly emblematic result of the collective trance of our consumerism and runaway industrial growth.”
Jordan’s photographs look like the creations of a warped imagination – the closest art they recall are the creepy hybrid sculptures we saw at Jan Svankmajer’s recent Brighton exhibition. Possibly not even he could have calculated chimeras of animal remains and manmade detritus that were so mournful and disturbing.
This is not science fiction. This is our pale blue dot.
Constantina conceived of their wonderful Pelicano album – recorded in 2007, but released in 2014 – as a tribute to the pelican. The music is gentle, persuasive and determined. In combination with Chris Jordan’s haunting photography, though, those long lovely guitar narratives translate as an elegy for the pelicans, albatrosses and other non-human species who now resemble sigils of bones and plastic, and who will eventually be just plastic.
Maybe that’s a grim juxtaposition for music so warm and otherwise comforting! We’re sorry. It’s a reminder for ourselves, as much as anyone.
For wishing a better world into existence, listen to Dustin Wong’s 2012 album Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads, and by the time it has finished, think of one thing you can do to make your own world a better one.