Plastic Scoop

Grand Theft Auto V is one of the most popular video games of all time, played by millions across the globe, it has generated many controversies related to the game’s known themes around gang violence, car theft and racial stereotypes. 

With the release of each new version, artist Andy Hughes noticed how changes in the rendering of the seascape and landscape seemed to mirror wider societal awareness of pollution issues including plastic waste and global heating. Could the increasing presence of trash and other visible pollution, traces of climate change discourse (and its denial) within the game be a sign of an environmental subtext?

This is just one of the potential strands of research and thinking behind Plastic Scoop, an innovative new film created by artist Andy Hughes and Dr Mandy Bloomfield, Associate Professor in English at the University of Plymouth.

Through discussion and workshops with undergraduate and postgraduate students in English and Geography, the film was co-developed through the exchange of ideas and concepts from ecopoetics and literature. The film explores the complex relationships between plastic, nature, the ‘real’ and the virtual. It features gleaned archival material and cinema footage from early ocean exploration, NASA archives, 1950’s advertising and information films combined with the artist’s studio-recorded directed in-game machinima. In researching the film, Hughes and Bloomfield held a series of focus groups and film viewings with English students to gain an understanding of how different people viewed the game footage and to invite input from an informed audience.

A YouTube channel and Instagram feed has been set up and over the coming months this channel and other social media will be populated with further clips and mini-video vignettes from outtakes of the film. The film will be submitted to several Avant-Garde and creative film festivals through 2019/2020. A set of C-Type prints were also produced and presented to the Sustainable Earth Institute.

 

The environmental messages of GTA5

I hope we have created something that people can engage with in an informal but informed way

Andy Hughes and Mandy Bloomfield discuss the creation of the innovative film Plastic Scoop, and the inspiration behind their work.

Read more about the making of Plastic Scoop here
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Plastic Scoop - Creative Associates: still from film

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Plastic Scoop - Creative Associates: still from film

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Andy Hughes Plastic Scoop

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Plastic Scoop: A Synthetic Ocean

Plastic Scoop brings together lecturer in English Post-1950 Dr Mandy Bloomfield, and photographer Andy Hughes, to create an innovative creative project which will share new perspectives and approaches about plastic pollution, climate change, the Anthropocene and sustainability. Using game footage from Grand Theft Auto V, alongside archival footage and new research material, it connects futurology and global environmental issues, watery worlds, ecology and the everyday way we think of ourselves and the ocean.

“Gaming and virtual reality has often been accused of being a form of escapism. It takes us away from the material world and in some ways distracts us from many of the problems we face in reality."
Dr Mandy Bloomfield

Andy Hughes

Andy's creative practice explores the littoral zone and the politics of waste. In 2013 he travelled to Alaska as an invited artist with an international team to work on the project GYRE: The Plastic Ocean. He has collaborated with and supported many non-profit and NGOs such as Surfers Against Sewage, The Marine Conservation Society and the Surfrider Foundation. His works have been exhibited nationally and internationally, he published a major volume of work in 2006, presented papers and lectured at many universities and institutions both in the UK, US and Europe. He lives and works in Cornwall, England.

Find out more about Andy Hughes

Creative Associates

The Sustainable Earth Institute's Creative Associates projects aim to explore novel and innovative ways of communicating research and develop a portfolio of case studies of the different creative approaches possible

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Image: Carey Marks/Creative Associates

Sustainable Earth Institute 

The Sustainable Earth Institute is about promoting a new way of thinking about the future of our world.

We bring researchers together with businesses, community groups and individuals to develop cutting-edge research and innovative approaches that build resilience to global challenges. We link diverse research areas across the University including science, engineering, arts, humanities, health and business.

Find out more about the institute