PLANKTON STAR VIRUS
Imhathai Suwatthanaslip, 2021
Even 70 years after the invention and worldwide adoption of plastic, there is yet to be a proper disposal method for the material, leading to insurmountable volumes of plastic waste. Plastic does not decompose. Instead, it degrades into small pieces called “microplastics” (about the size of plankton) while retaining all the chemical properties of the original material. Microplastics are scattered throughout the ocean and have entered humanity’s food chain through the marine life we consume.
The real solution to this environmental problem is not rattling statistic and scientific evidence; not from creating new technological innovations; not from social accusation or more punishing laws; we must foster immediate collective consciousness.
A drop of water in the ocean was once a cloud, transformed to rain, fallen to the ground, seeped through the mountains, the forests, the rivers, the seas, before becoming the oceanic source. Everything revolves around the cycle. With this understanding, it is possible for us to see the importance of every little detail, and react to them with respect, love, compassion, and kindness. It is only then that we can sense the spirituality and our place among them.
The plankton is in us – we are the plankton
The cosmos is in the fish – The fish swimming in the stars
The virus is in the moths – The moths are in the virus
The plankton, the cosmos, the virus, humanity, the fish, the moths – all are one.
termite swarmer wings, light box
Courtesy the artist
Often working on a small scale, Imhathai Suwatthanaslip uses unusual and fragile materials to make her artworks. For Plankton, Cosmos and Virus (2022), the artist has made small objects from human hair, fish scales and moth wings, representing plankton, stars and viruses. Crucial for all life on earth, these microscopic and distant yet ever-present life forms provide a different perspective from which to consider the time that humans have spent on earth, giving material form to things we would usually have difficulty seeing. While our relationship with them has been radically altered by human activity, plankton, stars and viruses have each existed long before us, and there is a strong chance they will outlive us on this earth too. As such, for the artist they provide a way of thinking beyond our needs as individuals in the here and now.
Imhathai Suwatthanslip presents these tiny lifeforms against vast backdrops signifying the ocean, sky and our world, to present us with a different way of looking at our relationship to the world around us. These living organisms sit in stark contrast to microplastics in the ocean for which we still haven’t conceived of a complete disposal method. Like plankton scattered throughout the ocean, they enter our food chain through the marine life that we consume.
The real solution to this environmental problem is not from rattling statistic and scientific evidence; not from creating new technological innovation; not from social accusation or more punishing laws; we must foster immediate collective consciousness. The fostering of collective consciousness is the ultimate goal of the collection “Plankton, Cosmos, and Virus”.
– Imhathai Suwatthanaslip