Utopian Coexistence of Plants and Plastic in the Anthropocene
This week’s PhotoGenie theme is titled Artificial Nature.
Through visual stories our curators research the question “In what ways are we creating an illusion of nature?”
We are currently living in the Anthropocene: the geological period when humans are thought to have the biggest impact on the climate and environment of Earth. Plastic waste from the 1970s still washes up on our shores completely intact. The plastics that do decompose simply fall apart into smaller particles. Scientists are not sure how long it will take for this detritus to dissolve, or whether it will ever decay. Plastic Utopia is a photographic project by Henri Blommers on the impact of our consumption on the environment.
In this project, he creates a false utopia in a series of plastic objects living free amidst nature. Rich in colour, the images are sensual and draw us in with the illusion of health and vitality. Yet, all too soon, we glimpse scattered pieces in the scene, made of plastic, a material known to take hundreds, if not thousands, of years to decompose. Among the plants and flowers, we see bottle caps and bags, strings and containers. There is a plethora of plastic wildlife, mirroring the surrounding floral species diversity.
The aesthetics of this work are very carefully composed by Blommers. The series contains images with strong colors, almost like a commercial product shoot, created by post-processing to shift the colors and give the images a more intense, futuristic feeling. This is in contrast with some of his previous series that had dark, almost muddy images. The shift is done because of the feeling that people were not looking at this type of images. Resulting from the realisation that viewers often disengage from work that is important but also ubiquitous. When you talk about politics, waste, or environmentalism, it is easy for people to disconnect because they are inundated with information on these topics.
Therefore, this project is a celebration of the beauty of nature, in the hope that nature will be strong enough to absorb these fossils of the future. While this hope seems to be merely wishful thinking at this stage, it is brought to life in Plastic Utopia in the form of a happy coexistence of plants and plastic.
About the Artist:
Henri Blommers is a fine-art and portrait photographer living in Amsterdam. In 2010 he graduated from the Photo Academy in Amsterdam and since, has been working full time on photography. He collaborates with photographers as with artists in other disciplines.
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Written by Noura Oul Fakir