Huang Xu, a Beijing born artist, collects plastic bags from the endless rubbish heaps now to be found in China and, using 3D scanners normally used by archeologists, digitally re-models them to create these wonderful images.
Plastic bags are an interesting phenomenon of modern life. At some level, they represent economic development, technological advance and convenience. Today, they have become an almost universal symbol of consumption and unsustainable waste. Yet, they are also one of the few areas where we have seen much progress with the introduction of re-usable, re-cyclable and biodegradable bags now being widely available and in common use.
These delicate images of have often been said to evoke the imagery of fine Chinese silk – a material which evokes positive connotations. It’s not clear to me why plastic bags should be seen as a sign of excessive consumption and silk should not.
Rather than simplistically interpreting Huang’s work as a sad commentary on consumption, waste, and pollution, maybe it should lead us to reflect on the difficulty, and fruitlessness, of drawing borders between economic and technological development and excessive consumption and waste.