An Interactive Installation Turns Its Spectators into Trash

Dutch artist Thijs Biersteker made an installation that creates your silhouette using real trash.

by Nathaniel Ainley
Nov 7 2016, 10:10pm

All images courtesy the artist.

When plastic material sits in our ocean for long enough it starts to degrade into nano plastics, a type of microplastic material that can traverse cell walls into fat and muscle tissue. This is a dynamic that Dutch designer Thijs Biersteker recently explored in his latest installation Plastic Reflectic, an interactive mirror that uses motion tracking technology to turn the spectator’s reflection into a silhouette made from hundreds pieces of real trash. “Turning us...slowly into plastic,” the artist explains.

Known for his psychedelic cloud installations and cancer punching bags, Biersteker constructed his new project on a horizontal pixel grid that houses 601 real pieces of plastic trash sourced from all over the world. Each piece of trash acts as a float and is pulled on and off the surface grid by 601 mini waterproof engines hidden under a pool of black biobased water.

When you stand in front of the installation an infrared sensor maps the outline of your body and releases pieces of plastic to the surface, charting your silhouette. Biersteker says the project, “shows you that everyone can influence the plastic soup with their behavior.” The installation takes a plastic trash pile that would otherwise be floating miles out at sea and puts it right at your feet, “showing that your actions in plastic have direct impact on the growing plastic soup,” writes the artist. Check out a short film about  the installation below:

The Plastic Reflectic installation was built for the Plastic Soup Foundation and the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant. You can learn more about the foundation on their website and be sure to check out more work by the artist Thijs Biersteker on his website.


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Thijs Biersteker
infrared sensor
plastic reflectic
plastic soup foundation