Future Fossils: Plastiglomerates in the Age of Capital

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Turnbull Room (University of Glasgow)
Weiyi Chang , University of British Columbia
Collected by Canadian artist Kelly Jazvac from Kamilo Beach, Hawaii,

plastiglomerates are hybrid entities comprised of plastic detritus that has been

melted together by bonfire with sand, rock, and organic materials commonly found

along the beach. Plastiglomerates index a convoluted web of relations and systems,

encompassing the rise and proliferation of plastic polymer manufacturing, the

expansion of global capitalism and the ongoing exploitation of natural resources,

and the geophysical phenomena through which matter, waste, and value flows.

Jazvac, in collaboration with geologist Patricia Corcoran, suggests plastiglomerates

as potential markers of the Anthropocene. In presenting the plastiglomerates as

readymades, Jazvac invites a re-reading of the art historical discourse of the


This paper reflects on the affective and material dimensions of the

plastiglomerate as readymade, shifting away from a perspective that foregrounds

artistic intentionality and towards a critical reflection on the readymade’s affective

and material character. Jaimey Hamilton Faris’ discussion of the readymade in

global capital reflected on the manner in which the artistic frame initiated a

transmutation of the commodity to materiality. As objects that are neither raw

matter nor consumer product, however, plastiglomerates beget a liminal space

between commodity and material and, in so doing, articulate the complex ecological

dimensions at play in the commodity situation. Framed by Jason W. Moore’s

formulation of the Capitalocene, which posits an alternative designation for the

current geological epoch, this paper queries how plastiglomerates change our

understanding of the commodity situation with regard to the current environmental