During 2015 we, Åsa Ståhl and Kristina Lindström, invite to a series of events where we engage with different kinds of hybrid matters. Whoever wants to join - those with special interests or just curious - are very welcome to come along on these explorations.
The hybrid matters that we invite participants to engage with are related to two quite recent findings connected to plastics. Both of these academic findings has generated curiosity, disgust, hope, and speculations. The first one is on plastiglomerates and the second one is on plastic munching worms.
Plastiglomerate walks and making
The first events are a series of walks in Iceland and Finland where we look for plastiglomerates which is a stone that consist of both plastic and stone. The term plastiglomerates was first coined by geologists, who had found this hybrid matter on beaches in Hawaii. They call it a marker of the anthropocene, which refers to humans as a strong force in nature and on nature, so strong that it is now even noticeable in geology.
During our walks explorations have been centred around what makes these hybrid matters come into being and what futures they might become part of. It has become obvious that they are produced by a combination of different kinds of activities, materialities and forces such as use of disposable plastic containers, fishing industry, currents that transport plastic debris around the world, bonfires, lack of recycling and much more.
Now that it is recognised that there is a lot of plastics around, what to do with it? It has been known that humans and nonhumans, cockroaches for example, as well as sharks and birds, eat various kinds of plastics on purpose or unintentionally. Most of the time plastics disintegrate and become more and more fragmented into microplastics. One particular kind of plastics, styrofoam, had not been seen to biodegrade until some researchers found that common mealworm can do it.
Inspired by this new finding we will host two events where we explore plastic composting with the help of common mealworms. One event, that takes place in Denmark, is on domestic composting where participants are invited to bring a composting kit into their home-setting. Another version, in Sweden, explores composting in public settings.
These public engagement events are steps towards a contribution to the HYBRID MATTERs exhibition that will travel around the Nordic countries during 2016.