Extra Second Brighton: Plastic

So in the first Extra Second, I deemed it appropriate to have consumerism as a December theme . December….Christmas…pretty fitting. This time, it’s January and now the manifestation of what was once familial gratitude has descended into a mound of cheaply manufactured material, perhaps to be washed into the ocean and unlikely to be biodegraded until the year 2468. Feeling shame for purchasing such at this point may be counter-intuitive due to the fact plastic is rather inescapable. This current argument has been brought to you by a plastic computer, plastic mouse and plastic keyboard. My plastic glasses have been used to observe this plastic in front of me, as I take a pensive sip from a plastic cup, containing a drink I paid for with my plastic money. Sure, I can assert my autonomy by simply purchasing less plastic BUT I cannot help but think of more impactful solutions. To hold everybody accountable for such a widely available commodity through the eyes of neoliberal ideals, neglects the circumstances of the underprivileged Perhaps it’s cheaper and more time-effective to buy fruit and vegetables encased in the artificial matter, as opposed to purchasing the local unpackaged ones. Sometimes we’re thirsty on a train and the only source of water is a bottled version. Then again, for those who can afford to do such, should we vote collectively through our purchases to perhaps minimise plastic production? I have my own opinions on this, I personally think individual accountability of purchases is pretty petty focus of handling a global issue, in comparison to what we could do. But, for the sake of a discussion I ask the question: Should we be held accountable for the plastic we buy? 

Plastic Facts (ecowatch.com)

 Documented successful solutions of plastic reduction:

Ever since the 5p bag charge was introduced in supermarkets, plastic bag usage has dropped 85%. This is a 2016 statistic so it’s likely that the usage has dropped even more. The revenue from the plastic bags are also donated to local charities. The project my friend Alex is involved with has made all Tescos in Glasgow City Centre to give people the chance to vote for a portion of the money raised from plastic bags to go to the Springburn Park Community Village. The 5p bag charge is now being extended as a requirement for all shops too, including local. Needless to say the development of the charge was not solely a direct action by the government, but a response to the pressure of public attitudes. Such is exasperated by those collecting and informing statistics, photographs and works of art.

Plastic destined for land fills can be used to create fix roads. “British engineer Toby McCartney has devised an innovative process to replace much of the crude oil-based asphalt in pavement with tiny pellets of plastic created from recyclable bottles. The result is a street that’s 60 percent stronger than traditional roadways, 10 times longer-lasting, and a heck of a lot better for the environment.”

We can also build houses with recycled plastic for just a little over £5,000. This is an article I read on inhabitat.com.

  • Colombian company Conceptos Plásticos saw two pressing issues in the world and decided to tackle both with recycled building materials. One issue is the housing crisis, prevalent in Latin America where 80 percent of the population now resides in urban areas. The second is the overwhelming amount of plastic crowding landfills. To combat these issues, Conceptos Plásticos recycles plastic into LEGO-like building blocks that families can use to easily construct their own homes.
  • Conceptos Plásticos works with local communities to source plastic and rubber and train locals on the building process. With the building blocks, locals can build their own houses, emergency shelters, community halls, and classrooms. A home for one family will take four people five days to construct with the recycled building blocks – and there’s no construction experience necessary. The blocks fit together like LEGOs.
  • Not only are the pieces easy to work with, they’ll resist natural disasters as well. Conceptos Plásticos puts an additive that makes the product fire-resistant, and since the blocks are made of plastic, they’ll also resist earthquakes. The company reports their “construction system is 30 percent cheaper” than systems traditionally utilized in rural areas. A standard home can be constructed for just $5,200.
  • The plastic building blocks will degrade around 500 years or more down the road, but for now they offer shelters for families who can’t afford other housing or are fleeing crises.

Though there’s been evidence to suggest that landfills don’t pose a risk to us as much as we once thought, the devastation of plastic is still very much present in our oceans. 

Here’s some statistical data on the matter (ecowatch.com):

  • More than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped in our oceans every year
  • Plastic in the ocean breaks down into such small segments that pieces of plastic from a one liter bottle could end up on every mile of beach throughout the world.
  • Billions of pounds of plastic can be found in swirling convergences in the oceans
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is located in the North Pacific Gyre off the coast of California and is the largest ocean garbage site in the world. This floating mass of plastic is twice the size of Texas, with plastic pieces outnumbering sea life six to one.
  • One million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans.
  • 44 percent of all seabird species, 22 percent of cetaceans, all sea turtle species and a growing list of fish species have been documented with plastic in or around their bodies.

There are luckily solutions to this incredibly depressing issue. The Ocean’s Clean Up is a non-profit organisation, dedicating to clearing the oceans via energy neutral modern technology. This technology is still being developed. According to their website cleaning up the Great Pacific using conventional methods – vessels and nets – would take thousands of years and tens of billions of dollars to complete. Their passive systems are estimated to remove half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years. A recyclable floater is used together with a screen to detect and catch plastic. Scale model tests have shown that they’ll be able to catch any plastic in between 1 centimetre and several metres longs. The float very much acts like plastic and therefore naturally heads towards plastic rich area, with help from natural forces like waves. Once the system is full, a support vessel empties the system using pumps and belts, before shipping the plastic back to land for processing and recycling.  (info provided by theoceancleanup.com)

Tue Greenfort is a Danish artist who uses an imperceptible approach to address the issues of climate change. For an exhibition in 2007, persuaded the gallery to reduce the air-conditioning to cause a 2 degree temperature rise. This was to mimic the estimated global temperature increase that we’d be experiencing over the next 50 years (according to a 2006 Stern review). The money they saved on air-condition that day went directly towards an environmental organisation to meet the artist’s wishes. Now in relation to plastic solutions: should more artists take this approach? Do artists have a duty to persuade action or at least to finance it?

Ok so the reason this topic originally came to be tonight theme is due to the endless conversations I have had with my friend Ruby.  In rancour we’d define this time as the age of plastic – a once bronze age has altered into this. If our planet is to remain, archaeologists would dig up our fossilised containers and Barbies and indeed establish our present as the plastic era. We’d too consider whether today’s people have become reflective of that, apparent in the decreased authenticity and in favour of reality television stars becoming presidents. Having said this, the rise of Trump may also be a sign of plastic rejection – advocating authenticity . Neolibralists like Obama, Hilary Clinton, Bush and Blair have been a charismatic front for the deaths they have committed and specialist interests, allowing mass comfort and trust in such figures and their decisions. Whereas Trump, through his sheer intolerance and stupidly, has sparked a mistrust in the governmental system and therefore maybe recognise we ought to take matters into our own hands (what she should’ve always done). Journal Will Storr has raised the point of neolibralism being eaten at both end – by both the left and the right. The left may reject the global market due to the social issues it raises and the right, possibly for the purpose of immigration. With all this said, what do you think? Is the amount of plastic in today’s society reflected in the faces of the people?

Can the Powerful be Role Models?

Art, without question, will derive from the cultural, personal and political contexts it’s found in. However, art alone has the potential to influence the actual contexts themselves. This relationship between art and context is very muclh like a conversation – of action and reaction – especially the visual.

This can be most overtly demonstrated in the media’s role of modern advertising, effectively probing an irrational and therefore impressionable state within mass populations. Why? According to Freudian deduction, insecurity and desire exist cooperatively – inflaming one another. It was actually Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, that used his uncle’s teachings to the advantage of advertisers – birthing the illusion of deficit that can only be filled by commodities; the consumerist narrative we see today.

To fuck off this narrative, which is clearly ill-serving of us, it would be argued to simply rid ourselves of advertising and all things relating to it. I propose the opposite. Though ridding ourselves of media buzzwords and such racket would certainly do well for our own psychology, to have any hope of reducing the power consumerism holds as a narrative, we must view its defining figures almost as sages.

Those who have the ability to control and exploit the masses must first have a comprehensive grasp of the human condition. Under Ray Kroc’s influence, McDonalds developed the iconography of  the infamous ‘M’ sig, rapidly impacting a global recognition. It was his intention to mimic the golden arches of the religious and academic architecture this phenomenon had replaced, along with the historical narrative. The age of convenience and purchase had taken charge. Coca-cola is also a leading example of this type of manipulation. The leading executives attach certain descriptions to their product which are quintessential to the culture they’re selling to, along with the insecurities that rest on them. For the UK currently (because it is winter time) – warmth, sentimentality, comfort. For Brazil – joy, vibrancy, playfulness.

So the visual is obviously a major factor in persuasion, because if we were to rely solely on touch and smell to experience such products and places, in my opinion we would merely receive blandness and indifference. Sound, however, also plays a massive role, especially when repetition is a leading consideration. The McDonald’s whistle, the Go Compare adverts, the five-note jingle in Coca-cola ads.
Repetition of image, repetition of sound, repetition repetition repetition works- unfortunately we are this sensitive. I certainly notice this in myself, that whenever I come across a supermarket logo, I’ll immediately be peckish and yet I like to identify as someone who is not in the clutches of consumerist ideology – dampening my self-righteous cred a little. Most of us are guilty of this which is ok to accept; it is not because we are stupid and docile (though this is what such companies would prefer us to believe), it’s because they are intelligent and their messages are fucking everywhere, using such to their advantage, therefore our disadvantage.

We have the same if not more intelligence, energy and diligence inside of us. We simply need to direct it where it’s worth, using our enemy’s knowledge against them and to share the load amongst a community of people who are just as angry as we are. It’s other people, their wisdom and important discussion born out of our interactions that act as a motor for our drive – basking in others insight and realising our own.

An Alternative to Consumerism

It is my understanding that consumerism is very much the son of capitalism and has a very active sex life with Thatcher’s aim of neoliberalism – promoting the notion of the individual and free-market economy. Now this is our leading narrative, as it seems. Even when my sister visited Zanzibar, amongst some of the poverty sat an actual McDonalds restaurant. So how do we oppose something so embedded in our lives?

Well what is the opposite of individualism? Community. Quite often the sense of deficit we experience in our lives, which we try to fill with vacant items, is actually a craving for community and connection. Art and literature are also a credible source of this. Once in Seville, when my depression was at its worse, I visited an art gallery. I was very moved by an 18th century portrait of a girl I saw there who was a similar age to me at the time. The pain and oppression was so blatant in her painted glazed eyes and being already so moved, I proceeded to cry. I found it so incredible that an artwork painted centuries ago – the artist and muse long dead – was connecting with me. The sense of connection and fulfillment I felt in that moment was more beautiful than any commodity I could ever acquire. This was where I had three succinct epiphanies:
1. Connection grows from pain
2. Connection fills the void
3. Art creates connection.

This is why I think artists, musicians and writers have a duty to generate art for the people- to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. The apparent elitism, snobbery and ego within certain artistic institutions are, I believe, anti-art. Because art should oppose the current narrative, like consumerism, or at least offer an alternative to one – connection.

(Poem –  

Is trickle-down-economics actually practical when our people continue to die on the streets? 

They’re stigmatised for what they may use to cope with the danger they’re exposed to, nights of no sleep 

And the hierarchy we delude ourselves with, rather than accepting our own vulnerability. 

Mentally ill systems create mentally ill people and that ain’t deep, it’s reality. 

You think that’s steep? We have already rolled past the tipping point of global warming; 

The best possible outcome now would be 

The earth becoming comparatively warmer before cooling back down – that’s if we act instantly. 

Those in power prefer to distract us from this because it contradicts their global-economic stance, 

With their friends in big-business, who’re leading the way in carbon emissions. 

We’re already experiencing climate change refugees 

Air on their arrival more hostile than the man-marked nature they fled from 

Because we’ve been convinced that problems lie in the most vulnerable 

To distract us from the actual causation. 

This is the capitalist system, not inherently evil but easy to misuse 

But we can refuse it’s malice through art; 

That’s how we choose to come close to living outside it, smart 

Because those who drive capitalism thrive on our disconnections from one another 

And the deficit they’ve convinced us that we are.) 

Sometimes

Mop it up, soak it in
It feels like it’s a sin
But we need it sometimes (x2)

My head’s swimming, thoughts are jaggered
Don’t feel like it’ll end
They say hope yields from the soul
But now it sounds like pretend
Defend my glory with a stutter
To explain the coincidence
That I don’t live under a dollar
Like the 50 percent
Wanna live through compassion
But the suffering is hard
Creeping slowly from the inside
Spreading til I regard
That maybe there’s no other option
Play the cynical card
Curl my body so the guilt
Won’t pierce through it as a shard
Say enlightenment’s sweet
But bitter too, can augment
Sense of chaos with the notion
That love’s inherent
We ignore and bow to ego
A pursuit prevalent –
Coping mechanism endowed
By our pleasure instinct
This is clearly killing us
I see why I resent
The thought of leaving the stank
I’ve found myself buried in
No body here I can work with,
Just my mind apparent
Counting the days until
My lack of energy’s spent
Cos, I know I should keep living
Though I mean sacrifice
Myself for a higher aim –
So others live, not survive
This morale’s transitory
Soon I’ll be alive
Spreading insight with the people
That keep me inspired
To live another day hoping
We will all recognise
We exist as one entity –
To love is to thrive

I don’t wanna feel helpless anymore
But simultaneously I feel rapport
Between me and my sadness
My guilt and my gladness

Expansion and contraction
Inevitable reaction
To a world of mass detraction
And it’s sensory impaction
(It’s) natural to feel attraction
To the realm of craved distraction
But it’s stunting my own action
To my hope, I feel retraction

Retraction (x14)

Mop it up, soak it in
It feels like it’s a sin
But we need sometimes (x2)

Soaking up the sorrow
I’ve neglected to see
Throughout the time I’ve been racing
So it doesn’t kill me
The shame is hard to ignore
But it’s reality
With the rise must come fall
To summon our clarity

Every chip at the soul
Leaves more room for the light
I know a lesson is lurking
In this internal fight
Between my drive and my comfort
Objective and my fright
Don’t know if the world is waking
But I’m preying it might

My head’s sore, I don’t know
If I should keep moving
Or be sinning
Cos I’m bruising
With this feeling

Restore, I no more
Find it amusing
Or appealing
In refusing
Our healing

Mop it up, soak it in
It feels like it’s a sin
But we need it sometimes (x2)

Retraction (x14)

 

Check up

This is the first poem I’ve written about my past experience with eating disorders and body dysmorphic habits. After a years of questioning, mediation, routine changes and a lot of self-love, I feel incredibly blessed to say such tendencies and what were once predominant thoughts are not a current reality for me. I understand this is not the case for everybody and if what I say resonates with you, please know (you probably already do) that there’s services and communities around to support and care for you. For the sake of being a cliche (though for a good reason) don’t suffer alone…it’s overrated.

how little I live
outside my disordered name
soul drifting far above
an empty stomached frame
brain exhausted on insecurity
taunting me, with
each mirror check –

day 903:
feet ok, calves passable,
thighs ok – turn – butt, besides creeping cellulite, ok
stomach fucked, fleshy arms can’t bear
to look. Boyish breasts need plumping
hormones bought on Norway’s eBay – clumping
together my misplaced desire
of someone else’s approval, their eyes grazing me
impatient, waiting for feminine blatancy.

back – passable, a tad too long
neck under red skin, inflamed, wrong
face – disgrace. Purple bruises under
the eyes parading the mark of illness
colonising the entirety, beginning with the
flushed cheeks, their racing yearn to stale in vibrancy
to a plum, eventually matured and crinkly.

let the porcelain paste proliferate
in feud with my skin, irritating
meeting the eyes with automated liquid strokes
the rest, repetitive pokes from powder brush thorns
it’s time to eat and here I dread the sickly impulse
yet Man Ray-style montages of avid flavour
had occupied my time today, like most.
Is this day one wherein I starve
or be manically engrossed in anything dry or paste-like?
texture required to keep my thoughts from gulps
breaching waistline. I choose to not eat today.
I’ll let the worried glances round the table simmer
I prefer it this way. Staying true to what I deserve –

nothing

but the hopeful image of a body
bones as sharp and clear cut as the hourglass curves
when the wholeness of living empty can finally sit beneath my skin.

 

distortion-self-portrait-jaeda-dewalt (1)

no more weed and no more longing
for a reverie far from coming
no to pleasure, its eventual pain
no to my own self-disdain
no to distractions, false connections
no to naivety, sight so plain
no more fuck ups, no more hook ups
no more Facebook look ups
no more needless suffering
for the sake of my worth buffering
no more noise, no more vices
no more lustful entices
no more escape, no more excuses
no more nonserving uses
no more fucks given, no more world hidden
no more bedridden pity rising
no more returning to what I’m yearning for –
hurt synthesising
no more rush, only hush
no more urge to look away
no more thirst to run astray
no more control, only surrender
to not a privileged splendour
no more resistance, no more assistance
the frostbite shall steer me – numb, lonesome
but consistent. I’ll tell myself in sombre light
no more quixotic foresight
no more ache, no more take
just here
grateful but years too late.

Soaking

Winter breath journeying through my spine
like Kundalini, taking grey-toned
cynicism to my highest awareness
I had been waiting for this.
the sense of exhilarating, impatient joy
has stretched to it’s thin macabre thread
entwining round the rising empathy
with leveled helplessness.
I had been waiting for this.
engulfing the world’s pain before the intensity
presses me to the sharpened, crystal-ridden floor
weight on my shoulders, lower back more laden
than the belief I have in myself to straighten
I had been waiting for this.
turbulence spent, the earth can now be soaked,
a teary-eyed goodbye to erratically spouted hope
I had been waiting for this.

Locked in dismissal

lost in everyday besides today
and any reality outside my own
diving into silence, assuming they
would hate to hear me moan
if they do, they simply want known –
my undressed frailty.
locked beneath the compressed
knowledge of must do’s
can’t stand, can’t roll over,
can only squirm, approaching the exit
handle out of reach
can only gaze in hoping manner
that maybe another will know how
to grapple through my rejection
of their attempts
and cure me.

Inward leaning

collecting pots in my room once more
letting traces of sickly sour tastes remain stagnent
holding the door open to passers by
as they wade through my perception of their ignorance
as in sorrow, all I wish to be is myself
horizontally suffering
feels good to be here.
tomorrow – another day to cleanse
the dutiful sores on the rear
of my inward leaning shoulders
the smouldering haze shan’t get me
this time, I’ll be better by then.

Pseudo Artists

I’ve been piecing this together over the past few days. It’s directed particularly towards artists who use their craft solely for themselves when they have potential to impact cultural attitudes and social/political movements. Art is pleasure for some – including myself – and in many ways it should be, however I feel that now to direct 100% of our attention on our own comfort, perpetuates an apathetic view and therefore, the global issues of today. Anyway…here’s a rap about it:

(last minute performance of it below)

Pseudo artist, you know, your art is

Pleasant for someone who sells to  lethargic target markets

Your distraction’s where your heart is

Message vague, or just simply never started?

You’re a smart kid, but fuck, come on, just part with

The void, that clearly has you caught up in a hard fit

World’s a hard hit, we’re fossilising plastic

Your force, exhausted on nothing, just a dark pit

Chart it, you have a body to impart,

The drive to survive won’t stand amongst your tarnish.

 

Find some meaning, forget about deceiving

Yourself that your input’s simply for your pleasured dreaming

It’s demeaning, your denial has me screaming,

Art ain’t a fucking business, but for its intervening

You’re still breathing , our time on earth is fleeting

Epicureanism ain’t a patch on our healing

Why silk-screening only for self-streaming?

What’s the feeling you get? Passion’s all I am receiving

To express ourselves is expression of our bleeding

We unite in pain, don’t let it be a demon.

 

Channel the collective, gain some more perspective

You’re satisfied now, but looked back in retrospect this

Time you’ll regret your esoteric cryptic

Limiting yourself to the walls of the domestic.

I suggest this, keep your cast realistic

Cheer can be fatal like living pessimistic

No going back now, but we can’t not address this.

It’s up to us, don’t keep yourself restricted

Your mind’s not for what the media’s depicted

Nor thee anxiety that you’ve manifested

 

Pick up compulsively your neuroplasticity,

Direct it towards a coherent simplicity

Of here, the now, and I mean this realistically

Our earth is tortured by our own toxicity

Let pessimism grow, and we’ll count it’s synchronicity

Let your consciousness show and feel your electricity

 

(8 BEATS)

 

We don’t think we have resistance, that I’m rather rude

We don’t think we have recourses when they’re spunked on mood

We don’t think we have the time, that aimless work is due

We don’t think we have the knowledge but we fucking do

We don’t think we have the passion, lost in TV’s drool

We don’t think we have the strength when we survived through school

We don’t think we have the care because we think it’s cool

We don’t think we have the power but we have been fooled.

 

When the artefacts are mystery, we repeat our very history

Not letting awareness expand over our periphery

Put some of your publicity, on victims living desperately

Your skill ain’t your accessory, it acts as a trajectory

Act on sensitivity, given universally

Living through our spirit rather than hostilely,

Quickly watch your misery metabolise to liberty

Your injury into another’s victory

That’s who we really are, despite cultural trickery

Cos we’re the same, not divided by ethnicity

 

(Poem – 

So the world’s eight richest people own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50 percent;

Is trickle-down-economics actually practical when our people continue to die on the streets?

They’re stigmatised for what they may use to cope with the danger they’re exposed to, nights of no sleep

And the hierarchy we delude ourselves with, rather than accepting our own vulnerability.

Mentally ill systems create mentally ill people and that ain’t deep, it’s reality.

You think that’s steep? We have already rolled past the tipping point of global warming;

The best possible outcome now would be

The earth becoming comparatively warmer before cooling back down – that’s if we act instantly.

Those in power prefer to distract us from this because it contradicts their global-economic stance,

With their friends in big-business, who’re leading the way in carbon emissions.

We’re already experiencing climate change refugees

Air on their arrival more hostile than the man-marked nature they fled from

Because we’ve been convinced that problems lie in the most vulnerable

To distract us from the actual causation.

This is the capitalist system, not inherently evil but easy to misuse

But we can refuse it’s malice through art;

That’s how we choose to come close to living outside it, smart

Because those who drive capitalism thrive on our disconnections from one another

And the deficit they’ve convinced us that we are.)

 

When escape means engagement, and activity spent

On art of resentment, aggravating descent

It ain’t just recent, but ain’t decent, causing mass repent

Man…you’re just a fetish for the one percent.

 

We don’t think we have resistance, that I’m rather rude

We don’t think we have recourses when they’re spunked on mood

We don’t think we have the time, that aimless work is due

We don’t think we have the knowledge but we fucking do

We don’t think we have the passion, lost in TV’s drool

We don’t think we have the strength when we survived through school

We don’t think we have the care because we think it’s cool

We don’t think we have the power but we have been fooled.

We don’t think we have the power but we have been fooled.

We have been fooled

We have been fooled

We have been fooled

We have been fooled.