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Two years ago during my summer visit to Il Porticello in Calabria, I was struck by the large amount of plastic waste which I found on the beaches.The plastic waste floating on the surface of the seas and oceans and washed up on the beaches is a global problem.

When the curator of Porticello Artist Residencies invited me to stay it made room for an idea: the sonification of the issue. I thought of a series of floating instruments whose main component was floating plastic waste. The instruments should be played by the sea itself. Use oscillating Water Columns, that are devices that generate energy from the rise and fall of water caused by waves and tides. The energy of the waves would continuously pump air through the whistles.

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So I returned at eastern to Il Porticello to start working on a proof of concept for this new project Plastic Souls.
In order to make a sound installation out of plastic waste, I had to start beachcombing .
By doing so I realised that the waste that shocked me in the summer was the ” tourist cleaned up ” version. The real situation was enough to dive the biggest optimist in to a depression. So there was no shortige of material for me.
The installation should be placed in the see and the energy of the waves should play the instruments.
The idea is to make a long floating construction with al sorts of bottles and flutes in a long row.
This should be placed in a 90 degrees angle to the coast. so that each wave rolling to the coast will play the instruments one after the other.
I am thinking of a catamaran like construction to prevent it from tilting.
For a first test, the outcome is better than expected.
This work touches on some issues that are of global importance, in addition it is very poetic to observe how it moves on the waves and plays; it has soul. I was particularly impressed by the reactions of the local population, especially the fishermen who stayed awhile listening. This was a good sign So far, we have tested the installation in the open sea and would like to experiment with a new model that works in a river environment. Meaning harvesting the energy of the current instead of that from the waves.Have them play flutes of made of the plastic that is poisoning the environment of our world would be the ultimate statement we hope to make

here I post the work in progress and concept testing.
Needless to say I did not know if it works and how it would work,
(that is why I had to come here for the first visit).

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First findings
1. You must sort the material that you found on the beach.
A. any bottle that has a hole, is broken/ damaged or just to old: put them in the garbage.
When you do that,best is to empty the water out first then compress/crush them and put the lid back on, this way they take less space and are easy to transport.
B. split the remaining bottles in two groups
those made of thick material and thin material (normal water bottles)
2. Use the thin water bottles to make rope
They are made of thin plastic and are not useful to make flutes.
Before you make rope you have to remove all the corrugations (?) , in order make the plastic bottle flat) .
Do this by closing the bottles and keep it above a gas stove
(works only when there no holes in the bottle!)
do not use to old botlles the plastic gets brittle and the rope will brake easely.
3. install the floating bottles  used as buoy to keep the construction afloate),
then they are on pressure (by holding them over the stove)
then they are easier to process. I used stronger bottles for this like the cola and sprite
4. Use bottles of thick plastic for the flutes mostly washing soup bottles and anything stronger
they are easier to mount then the thin-walled
(they sqwach when mounted)

Our website Plastic Souls ,made for this project, is now online
On this website you can follow the process of creating Plastic Souls, which is a continuous process of reflection and improvement, but also participate in this process. You can read tutorials on how to build your own floating instrument and collaborate in the development of the instrument.

Soon I will post more photos video and text



Geert-Jan Hobijn


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