As our ancient ancestors crept out of the primordial soup they folded the ocean back into themselves, creating The Hypersea: an interconnected network of fluids connecting all land-based organisms. Our blood, sweat and urine are daily reminders of the aquatic origins of human life. Yet today, there is another material entanglement connecting marine and land-based organisms: microplastics, the microscopic result of plastic waste eroding over time and entering our bloodstreams.
The Sci-fi documentary Plastic Hypersea (the spill), departs from this notion of shared contamination. We meet “The Expanders”, a pair of speculative scientific researchers experimenting with extending their immunological selves, as they feel their way through sand, sea, and foam on the Dutch island Schiermonnikoog, the site of a massive plastic spill when 349 containers fell overboard the containership MSC Zoe in 2019.
In the work, we meet The Expanders, scientific researchers who are experimenting with extending their immunological selves. Their research is based on reports of bodily effects on the Wet Communities after a toxic spill. We follow two human bodies dancing in twilight with sand, sea, and foam on the island Schiermonnikoog, microscopic footage of cells vibrate on the screen ingesting microplastics, a starfish larva animation explains the discovery of macrophages, and 3D scans trace a sixteenth-century shipwreck containing large copper plates for making coins, which was uncovered while searching for containers from the MSC ZOE. Through sound and image, Tonn invites viewers to viscerally engage in a world of interpermeable body-environment relations, prompting us to reimagine what we consider to be “ourselves”.
Sissel Marie Tonn is a Danish artist based in The Hague. In her practice she explores the complex ways humans perceive, act upon and are entangled with their environments. Her work centers around moments of awareness and shifts in perception, where the boundaries between our bodies and the surrounding environment begin to blur. Tracing and capturing these moments often result in hybrid, interactive installations and objects, where audience is invited to engage in a sensory and participatory way with the stories and data at hand. She imagine her work as “training grounds” meant to challenge our pre-configured modes of perception, attention, and sense of self, and shed light on how our biology as well as our cultural conditions influence the ways in which we perceive and subsequently act upon our surroundings.