Behavioral (Plasti{c)ity}

Behavioral (Plasti{c)ity} seeks to make small interventions in everyday Rice student life by incorporating students’ discarded plastic materials into visual representations. The name of the project refers to a concept in neuroscience and not-so-subtly identifies Houston as a plastic city. By collecting plastic grocery bags from students, out of waste disposal and recycling bins and reframing them to be a more visible part of everyday life, this project allows for Rice students to actively engage and confront the waste they produce in a way that gestures to larger relationships between man and nature.

 

Firstly, we collected materials from students on campus to raise awareness of this project, inviting them to participate, contribute, and connect to the work before it is even showcased. Additionally, portions of the project’s construction occurred in public spaces on campus to foster curiosity and visibility of the project, moving beyond the “chilly white cubes of art institutions” and into the public. Finally, community members were able to use and engage with the final product and visualize plastic waste as it was displayed in various places around campus. A video of this project was created as a form of documentation of the process of creation. An Instagram account was also made to showcase more of the final project on social media. While new media art and socially engaged art are generally more process-led rather than object-led, this project brought both aspects together through locating the work in site-specific and online ways.

Elaine Shen and Vidya Giri

Vidya Giri is a third-year Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering student at Rice University in Houston, TX. Vidya has always been fascinated with making and creating things from drawings to videos to interdisciplinary art and engineering projects. Vidya has worked on various projects around campus such as Doodlebots and Inhale/Exhale as the president of Rice Art and Engineering. She hopes that Behavioral (Plasti{c)ity} can have a meaningful impact on people’s habits and improve understanding of everyday actions.

 

Elaine Shen is a junior Ecology and Evolutionary Biology major and Environmental Science minor at Rice University, originally from Houston, Texas. Her scientific interests are in marine biology, particularly as it relates to anthropogenic stressors like resource management and climate change. More broadly, Elaine is interested in documenting the impacts and relationships between humans and marine ecosystems through various modes, including science, science communication, and art. Previously, Elaine has been funded through Rice Student Activities to do outreach campaigns on ocean conservation with Rice Oceans Club. She hopes that Rice Oceans Club will be able to continue promoting ocean art projects.

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