Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ghost Nets

Ghost nets are pernicious entanglements of lost commercial fishing gear. Birds, fish, and marine mammals get caught in this silent floating debris —trapped in what is called “ghost fishing.” The “catch” weighs the net down so it sinks. Scavengers consume the contents so the net floats again and continues to sink and rise forever. It is estimated that ghost nets, some up to 4,000 yards long, account for approximately 10% of all marine plastic pollution.

The ghost net used in this display washed up onto Kehoe Beach and is most probably from the North Pacific Gyre. The gyre, an accumulation of plastic caught in circling currents in an area northeast of Hawaii, is sometimes called The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It is estimated to be 300,000 square miles—making it larger than Texas. By both weight and size it is the biggest garbage dump on earth.

Plastic is composed of polymers that never “biodegrade” —they are with us forever sloughing and breaking down to make a polymer soup that outweighs the plankton in this area by a factor of as much as 30 to 1.

When given an opportunity to display our work in the SFMOMA Artist Windows we wanted to create an art savvy image that would give sidewalk passersby a double take — is that a Pollock or is it plastic?

The shape and content of our ghost net “painting” was inspired by Jackson Pollock’s Shimmering Substance, 1946, from his Sounds in the Grass Series. We unraveled line and rope from an enormous ghost net to emulate the skeins of oil on canvas in Pollock’s action painting. Our re-creation was then photographed and printed on canvas at Electric Works, a gallery and fine art print studio in San Francisco. It was first displayed in the SFMOMA Artist Windows on Minna Street, November 2010 - June 2011.

“Shimmering Substance” glows with the brilliant light of midday sun on a thick meadow. Alive with arcs and orbs of heat-saturated colors, the painting is a testimony to the importance of the Long Island landscape as a motivating force of Pollock's work in the late 1940s. from the New York Museum of Modern Art website
Pollock says, “I want to express my feelings rather than illustrate them."

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