IMMERSION by Aidan Frere-Smith
159 x 210mm, 68 pages, full colour printing, perfect bound, 2021
In 2020, research carried out by Royal Holloway University of London estimated that 94,000 microplastics pass through some parts of the River Thames in London per second. The severity of this form of pollution was amplified by the United Nations who stated that 51 trillion microplastic particles litter the worlds oceans and compared this to the scale of outer space; that this quantity is 500 times the amount of stars in our galaxy. This is problematic, as a comparative statement such as this is abstract and can subsequently perpetuate passivity, which is often the response when presented with issues of climate change and environmental catastrophe. Much like our perception of aquatic environments and outer space, the reality of these issues feel alien to us. Using this comparison as a centralised theme, Immersion explores microplastics of the River Thames. Water from the river was collected and combined with broken-down plastics that had washed up on the foreshore and were used to replicate the process of the degradation of plastics. Film negatives of photographs of the river, taken underwater, were soaked in this combination until all emulsion was removed. The remaining film base was then scanned to produce a series of abstract images that visualise the United Nations comparison of microplastics of our planet’s oceans to the stars in our galaxy.