Title: Elevated Wetlands
Year created: installed in the summer of 1998, plantings took place over the course of the next year.
Location: Toronto, Canada
Materials: waste plastic, solar panels.
What is the piece’s impact? The project led to the creation of 6 large polystyrene containers that are filled with recycled plastics, which act as large hydroponics planters for native plantings from the Don River Valley. The project’s intent was to create a wetland environment within “animal-like” plastic containers, it’s essentially a “functioning sculpture” (source). A pump powered by the sun moves water from the Don River to the top of the structure, where it filters down through recycled plastics, such as shredded tires, recycled resin pellets, automobile shredder residue and plastic bottles. There isn’t a significant amount of water purified by the sculpture, however the large pieces present an excellent example of “a symbolic interpretive feature promoting the benefits of wetlands, and has been in numerous publications.” (source)
How does this project relate to this change as art? This is a very, very visible piece situated along one of Canada’s busiest roadways. With the creation of the piece, not only was a playful and iconic piece created, so to was a “wetlands environment was created within plastic structures. Waste plastic is used as a soil substitute to filter water and sustain plant and tree growth. Certain vegetation, such as that commonly found in wetland areas, has a natural ability to remove pollutants from the environment — a process known as phytoremediation. A selection of such plants, shrubs and trees are growing in the sculptural planters.” (source)
What makes this an artistic project? Noel Harding, a artist who often works on public art projects was commissioned with landlab by the Canadian Plastics Industry Association “to create a public work of art that brings together both the plastics and art communities.” (source)
Notes: A photo-based video of the project and it’s very interesting process can be found here: http://noelharding.ca/elevated-wetlands.html