For 12 years, Judith Selby and Richard Lang have collected plastic trash along a one-kilometer stretch of beach near their home in northern California. At a rate of 35 pounds per hour, it isn’t surprising that they have accumulated tons of debris. What may be surprising is the art they produce with it—sculptures and abstract prints reminiscent of Paul Klee and Henri Matisse that feature 1949-vintage toys, Korean lighters, Astroturf (a common find), bubble blowers and hair curlers that may have last adorned a human head thirty or forty years ago. The artwork has exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and now, the Langs can add Mountainfilm’s 2011 filmmaker awards to their resume. Let’s hope that those pieces never find their way back to the sea, where they would join an estimated 46,000 visible pieces of plastic that float in every square mile of Earth’s oceans.
- Tess Thackara
- Eric Slatkin