Artist Tan Zi Xi Plastic Ocean, pollution, art, activist, ocean, sustainable sustainability, art of shifting our environmental consciousness

We hear lots of comments about disruptive technology, disruptive innovation, disruptive businesses to shift the way we see and engage with the world. But what about disruptive art?  Whether at a conference or a music festival, people love interacting with art installations. Whether it’s by walking in, on, or around them, or by actually becoming part of the artwork, immersive installations grab attention and engage in a way quite unlike any other brand activation.


Under the Water, Over the Sea

A stunning interactive art installation by Singaporean artist Tan Zi Xi debuted in 2016 in the Singapore Art Museum’s Imaginarium: Under the Water, Over the Sea, shifted people’s consciousness about how they viewed, engaged and impacted the ocean.

SAM’s children-focused Imaginarium themed exhibition invited adventurers of all ages into our watery realms through tactile and interactive works that encouraged discovery through exploration and play. The goal of Xi’s 3d artwork, “Plastic Ocean” was to open the eyes of Singapore’s communities to the amount of plastic we are throwing away, and how we are polluting the ocean.

“I wanted to recreate a physical manifestation of the Pacific Garbage Patch, where children and adults could experience being immersed in a space covered with trash, simulating the environment of the ‘plastic pool,” says Xi.


How Marine Creatures View Plastic Pollution

Singapore immersive art museum ocean plastic Singaporean artist Tan Zi Xi Plastic Ocean pollution waste art exhibit, art of shifting our environmental consciousnessThe resulting piece was experiential, where guests walked through a room, dimly lit, with plastic hanging all around them.

For those who have never put their heads below water, the ‘underwater’ walk-through gave spectators a new view of the ocean, experiencing what plastic pollution looks like from the point of view of creatures who call the ocean home.

The work required collecting, cleaning, and organizing 500kg of discarded ocean plastic – more than 26,000 pieces – into a swirling sea of trash to demonstrate to spectators where their single use plastic eventually goes and how it takes over the habitat of sea life.


An Unsustainable Culture of Convenience

“When we start to study and be conscious of our waste, it will hit home just how unsustainable our culture of convenience is. This revelation is life-changing,” Xi said.

‘Plastic Ocean’ has since exhibited at the Sassoon Dock Art Project as a part of St+art Mumbai Urban Art Festival, 2017. Says Tan, “Since the completion of ‘Plastic Ocean’, many locals have started sharing their views and stories of how plastics have destroyed their surrounding environment, with beaches stinking and littered with plastic.”

Plastic Ocean shows once again that “immersive” 3D art can attract new people into the conversation, shift perspectives and convey environmental messages that directly impact people via their own first-hand experience.


Singapore immersive art museum ocean plastic Singaporean artist Tan Zi Xi Plastic Ocean pollution waste art exhibit, art of shifting our environmental consciousnessAbout Tan Zi Xi

An illustrator and artist who experiments with a variety of mediums,  Tan Zi Xi’s artwork has been showcased at the Singapore Art Museum and The Substation Gallery, and in Singapore’s subway mural art. Also known as  MessyMsXi, she is a recipient of numerous awards including “New Talent of Year 2010” in the London International Creative Competition, as well as the gold award from the Singapore Creative Circle Awards.

Zi Xi got a degree in Graphic Design (Illustration Major) from Central Saint Martins in London, UK. Apart from her commercial illustration work for brands, Zi Xi has collaborated with graphic designers, fashion labels and museums for various projects including public art. Learn more.

By Laurie Wilson, Blue Ocean Network


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