Workshop: (Un)Real Ecologies - Microplastics (mit Kat Austen & Nana MacLean)
7./8. July 2018


Bilder: Kat Austen

Plastik hat Wasser, Erde und unsere Körper durchdrungen. Es ist die neue Ikone unserer Zeit. Während des Workshops (Un)Real Ecologies: Mikroplastik werden wir das Vorhandensein von Mikroplastik im Fluss Panke nahe von Art Laboratory Berlin erforschen. Wie (ko)existieren Organismen und Mikroorganismen mit diesen von Menschen hergestellten Materialien? Wir werden die Wasserproben untersuchen, um ein neues Verständnis über das Panke-Ökosystem zu bekommen. Plastik ist gegenwärtig ein wesentlicher Teil davon - ein Mikrokosmos, der uns fragen lässt: "Was ist Natur?"

Kat Austen ist eine Abfolge von Erfahrungen und eine Ansammlung von Bestrebungen. Sie kreiert künstlerische Projekte, die vielfältige Erkenntnisse erforschen, von Musik über verkörpertes Wissen bis hin zu DIY-Wissenschaft, und konzentriert sich auf emotionale Verbindungen zwischen dem, was wir als intern und extern betrachten. Kat ist Dozentin für Kunst und Wissenschaft an der Universität von Leeds, hält Vorlesungen über das BASC-Programm für Kunst und Wissenschaft der UCL und ist Artist in Residence an der UCL-Fakultät für Mathematik und Physikalische Wissenschaften. Frühere Aufenthalte umfassen NYU Shanghai Gallery und ArtOxygen. Kat war Gründungsmitglied des London Creative Network-Programms. Sie lebt in Berlin.

Nana MacLean studierte Biologie an der UvA Amsterdam und hat kürzlich ihr Masterstudium in Molekularbiologie an der Universität Potsdam abgeschlossen. Neben ihrem Studium war sie an Projekten beteiligt, die die Grenzen zwischen disziplinären Systemen und Methoden überschritten - sowohl spekulatives Design als auch performative Kollaborationen. Als Doktorandin forscht Nana derzeit über mikrobielle Gemeinschaften in anthropogenen Landschaften und kunststoffverschmutzten Böden am GFZ Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam. Ihre Forschung konzentriert sich auf Plastik als biologischer Lebensraum und erforscht darüber hinaus zukünftige Ökologien und Forschungsbereiche, die Storytelling und andere einfallsreiche Methoden beinhalten. Nana lebt und arbeitet in Potsdam und Berlin.


The workshop

The Panke river is a small river that starts about 20 km north of Art Laboratory Berlin close to the small town of Bernau. During its way down into the city Berlin, the Panke changes into a straightened urban stream that receives rain and mixed waters from the surrounding districts. We will explore two secions of the Panke, an 'upper' part around ALB is bordered by parks, green shrubby watersides and a swampy floodplain. The more downstream we go, the more influenced the ecosystem will become by urban factors. The 'lower'part we will explore Panke around Gerichtstrasse already shows less water plant vegetation than on the 'upper' part. In order to collect (Micro)plastic from the water stream, we are going to place fine nets inside the river that will collect all particles flowing through that part of the Panke overnight.

To understand the status of human influence in the different parts of the Panke, we want to compare water from these two parts of the Panke. We will search for visible interactions between plastics and biota in and around the Panke. Asking how organisms and inhabitants of the Panke live with plastic in their habitat?

Plastics come in different shapes, textures and material properties. Their chemical properties makes them generally very resistant to natural degradation processes by fungi, algae or bacteria. However, the term plastisphere has been used by biologists to describe the living microworld attached to plastic particles in the environment. Surprisingly, plastic seems to be much more than just an human-made waste product: In marine ecosystems it was found that pieces of plastics carry a very specific community of fungi, algae and bacteria. Using a microscope, we can get a close and intimate look into their habitat. In the workshop we want to examine the plastisphere of the Panke and observe the shapes and forms of how organisms interact with plastic. For this step, we will choose some interesting particles from our catch and use the available microscopes to get a close look at plastics and living creatures.

Furthermore, we will use a two step chemical protocol for the analysis of (Micro) plastics in our water samples. In our case, plastics include hard plastics, soft plastics (e.g., foams), films, line, and sheets. Microplastic is defined by its size smaller than 5mm, so with our nets (200 micron) we will be catching all sizes between 5mm and 0.2mm. During the coming two days we want to split our samples into different groups, so that we can compare the different procedures with each other.

The solid particles in soil or waters are a mixture of minerals (abiogenic: not produced by living organisms), organic matter that are carbon-based remains from living organisms or their waste product and recently of synthesized anthropogenic compounds (?) that find their way into both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

Each of these compounds have a specific density range and will either float or sink in a given liquid column. In order to divide those three fractions from our water samples, we will separate them according to their density. Using a saturated salt solution will create a liquid in which plastic and minerals clearly separate from each other. But first, we will need to remove all organic compounds, leaving only minerals and plastics! Adding hydrogen peroxide solution (30%) to your sample is a common method for the elimination of organic matter as it strongly reacts with all organic carbon.

Workshop overview and protocols here
Documentation file here

Friday, 6 July, 2018
16.30-18.30 (optional) Meet at ALB with Kat Austen and Nana MacLean and members of DIY Hack the Panke. Placing the nets along the Panke river.

Saturday, 7 July, 2018 | Microplastics Workshop – Part I
10:00 Meet at ALB, doors open, coffee and meet / briefing & microplastic introductions with Kat and Nana
10:45 Exploration Panke and collect net samples
11:45 ALB: outline of protocols
12:00 Microscope analysis and beginning of chemical microplastic analysis
13:30 Lunch break at Panke e.V
14:30 Continue microscope analysis and chemical analysis
15:30 Creation around microscope analysis
16:00 finishing up

Sunday, 8 July, 2018| Microplastics Workshop – Part II
9:30 Brunch at ALB
10:30 Work with samples and reactions from Saturday
10:50 DIY chemical protocol preparation
13:00 Lunch break
14:00 Last experiments and cleaning
15:30 Discussion and presentation of results




Foto: Art Laboratory Berlin


Foto: Art Laboratory Berlin


Foto: Art Laboratory Berlin


Foto: Art Laboratory Berlin


Foto: Art Laboratory Berlin


Foto: Viki Alexander


Foto: Viki Alexander


Foto: Viki Alexander


Foto: Viki Alexander


Foto: Viki Alexander


Foto: Art Laboratory Berlin



Die Veranstaltung erfolgt in Kooperation mit DIY Hack the Panke.


Teil des Shared Habitats Projekts, organisiert von Institutio Media und finanziert von Nordic Culture Point



 

Mit freundlicher Unterstützung von: