These photographs were taken as part of the Flotsam Island Ecosystem Art Exhibition. They show Galen Fulford and I collecting marine flotsam and creating a flotsam island ecosystem. Galen and I noticed lots of seeds, mangrove seeds in particular, floating in images of the garbage dump in the north pacific gyre, and we thought what if the flotsam was made into islands and the seeds grew? We shared the concept with Thomas Ermacora of Lime Wharf, Curator and fellow Eco-Designer and the first phase of the project in creating a system for transforming marine waste into Flotsam Islands was born. In the show there were two aquariums one with flotsam and the other with a flotsam island made from garbage we found on a local beach. Accompanying the aquariums were paintings related to this theme, photographs of the process and drawings of how it might look at a larger scale.
The island would provide a resting place for sea birds, which would provide additional nutrients to a growing layer of halophyte, salt tolerant vegetation and in a relatively short period of time a floating plastic soup, would be transformed into a floating island ecosystem supporting a wide diversity of marine life. Since most of the plastic materials involved breakdown through photo-degradation, they would be substantially stabilized in the process. Groups of islands would form floating mid-ocean archipelagos, or closer to shore could be used to provide valuable erosion control to vulnerable seaside settlements. There are many areas of floating plastic waste in our seas and this could be a potential approach to up-cycle and transform this waste into living systems.