A few months ago we caught wind of a short film highlighting the incredible scale of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. The makers of ‘Sea Chair’, Studio Swine, have been hard at work on a new project, showing the brilliance of plastic recycling in a new way. We’ve welcomed Studio Swine’s Alex and Azusa back for another interview, this time talking about ‘Into the Gyre’ and their successful Kickstarter campaign.
Firstly, watch this video!
So, how did the idea for ‘crowdfunding’ come about?
We approached many brands and organisations to sponsor the trip and didn’t have any luck, however everyone we spoke to was very excited about the project and the Sea Chair film was going viral online so we made a kickstarter campaign and it exceeded our goal which was fantastic.
We love the Kickstarter video, can you tell us more about the Solar ovens and 3D printer?
We have been making Solar Ovens all year and using them to melt plastic, we are interested in solutions for plastic waste which can be found in remote areas all over the world where there’s no recycling facilities or even electricity. The latest machine we have made for the boat is a very manual 3d printer, the dish is a parabolic mirror which focuses the sun into a extremely hot spot.
The dish is able to pivot to track the sun and deal with the rocking motion of the boat. There is a black steel tube insulated by a surrounding pyrex glass tube which creates an oven that can reach over 400 degrees Celsius so there is enough heat to melt the plastic inside. The extruder screw is turned by a winch on the side so the melted plastic can build up a form on the printing bed underneath.
We’ve written about the North Pacific Gyre before, but what can you tell about the North Atlantic equivalent?
There are 5 gyres around the world and the majority of research has taken place in the Pacific so not much is known about the Atlantic gyre. We were on a research vessel with scientists studying the effects of micro plastic on plankton and trawling everyday. Like the Pacific gyre the plastic has been broken down into tiny fragments by the sun and sea. Every time we trawled we got a lot of micro plastic, when you consider we hadn’t seen a ship or plane for days and we were 1000 nautical miles from land it really hits you how much is out there and how pervasive it is.
The boat you are travelling on is called the ‘Sea Dragon’, it sounds really exciting. Are your sea companions, the scientists and ecologists, also going to work with marine plastic?
The crew was made up of Marine Biologists, Ecologists, Environmental Campaigners and even a doctor studying the effects of sea plastic on public health. Each day we would trawl for plastic and study the results, fixing the plankton in formaldehyde for the lab back in the UK. There were also daily discussions lead by Kate Rawles, an environmental philosopher, and lectures by a member of the crew each evening. It was a hive of activity, like being on the Jaques Cousteau boat.
Your last film was beautifully done and even has a runner up award from Cannes Film Festival, are you hoping to get the first place with this next piece?
We want to make a film that’s very different from Sea Chair which was about fisherman on these old wooden boats. This time we are sailing in the open ocean on a former round the world racing clipper with a team of scientists and a 3d printer, we really want to use that backdrop to engage people with sustainability which is all too often seen as frumpy or too worthy. The film will come out early next year and we never know how people will respond so we shall wait and see.
Thanks a lot guys, best of luck on your adventure!