Sustainable System: Me and Anthropocene

Many scientists insist that recent human activity, beginning about 250 years ago, is having such a significant environmental impact on the Earth’s climate, geography, and biological composition that we have actually entered into a new period of geologic time — the “Anthropocene”. It means that human activities have shaped the geological shapes with the rise use of fossil fuels, industrialization of agriculture and inevitably, the urbanization.

Started from industrial revolution, we made ourselves aware of the improvement in transportation, medical research, artificial fertilization, markets, tourism, globalization, health, wealth, security and longevity. But with all the progress we have made, we are polluting the environment in many ways.

From the rise of the first urban settlements until the emergence of mega cities in the 20th century, the scale and intensity of urban pollution has increased. As where we have lived and we have been exposed, about 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally each year. We use it, and we dispose it. Because plastic is inexpensive, lightweight and durable, virtually every industry (retailing, manufacturing or logistics) loves it. However only about 10 percent of that is recycled.

To me, cities can be regarded as artificial environments created for the benefit of humans, and yet none of this liberates people from nature. Cities have to be fed and provided with energy and water in order to exist and sustain its human population. The bigger the city, the more resources and energy must be extracted from the surrounding areas to sustain it. But what we have done is that of the plastic that is simply trashed, an estimated seven million tons ends up in the sea each year. Others has become pollutions in soil, and landfills. Plastic accumulated over half a century is now out there.

Plastic pollution is a major global phenomenon that has crept up on us over the decades, and it really requires a global and comprehensive solution that includes systemic rethinks about usage and production. My final project for sustainable system, the urban plastic sculpture is hoping to raise awareness of the problem and the potential savings that can be made. Like transferring perishable plastic trash into art, or decorative use, and to prompt organizations to change the consumption patterns.

Adopting the Anthropocene name, the concept, and my initial approach to this project, both want to raise the awareness of the fact that humans are having enduring effect on the plant, and find ways to solve what we did wrong.

Me and Anthropocene Process

I recycled plastic bags for my project to make a city landscape sculpture to illustrate the anthropocene. Before heat fuse the plastic bags, I cut off the handles and saved them for further use.

Each building is made of an individual plastic bag. The heat of flat iron fused the layers together to make the plastic stick stronger and thicker.

By putting the fused plastic building on the recycled foam board, I started to structure the plastic city landscape. And for the cut of plastic bag handles, I tied them together to reduce wastes, and knitted them together and see what I can do with the outcome.

Sustainable System: Non Human Project

Check the Full Version of my Presentation: non-human-project

Design for non human is a process of thinking out of the box. Having designed and used humanly oriented products, we enjoyed our convenience. But have we actually think of the animals and plants that share the same planet with us?

I chose dogs as my observing targets for this projects for the simplest reason, I love dogs. And they live with us. We always have such kinship to human’s best friends and some stores and companies have started making designs for dogs. Living with dogs for over 10 years, I know what they love and what they hate. But I have never see this world in their perspectives. Though this project, I spent my afternoon at Washington Square Park with my friend’s dog, Yogurt. And ran around the park for half an hour. I will show you what I have found.
*5 times speed up for Yogurt’s perspective in Washington Square Park

I made this video from the dog’s perspective that I took over 2000 pictures at Yogurts height while running with him at the park. Documenting what he passed and what he stopped for. We ran into at least 30 dogs within 1 hour in the park by not including those friends hanging in the dog park. Most of the dogs were leashed and so did Yogurt.
So what if the Washington Square Park is a dog park? Every dog comes in unleashed and have their fun? Based on puppy’s preference, water and snacks are needed. So I designed the hydrant system that can be inserted in the part to both decorate and provide what they need.

So I designed the hydrant system that can be inserted in the park to both decorate and provide supplies. (see file 2) The hydrant is connected to underground water pipes to provide clean and cool water source. Streams of running water keep going out of the hydrant for animals in the park to drink, and snacks part are set to give 1 cookie out every 5 minute. Stones pile around the hydrant to keep the ground clean without muds or dirt. And in summer, dogs can lie on the stone is they get too hot. Also, gaps between stone allow water to come back to the earth. A solar panel can be added on the top of the hydrant to collect sun energy which is used to the sensor of the hydrant. The sensor can be activated with any object within 2 meters around the hydrant. And in this case, where there is no dog or animals around the hydrant, it can also save water and save dog cookies as well. The set of functionality remains the same as it was set if there are lot of dogs around the hydrant to prevent the overeating habits of puppies.

We seldom think in a non human perspective. When we do, we feel the huge difference of objectives, we feel guilty of not bringing convenience to our buddy, our neighbor who also live on this planet, and we start to care more ever after we stay with them.

Final Conceptual Illustration

Final Conceptual Illustration

Also, fun fact about birds in WSQ Park, hope you will like it:


Sustainable System: Trash Transformer

Material: Used Duvet Cover- Teared into strips

Process: Weaving

Result and Function:

Sustainable System: Reflection on Circle Line Tour, Sep. 24th. Sat.

Throughout most of the history of New York City, the East River has been the receptacle for the city’s garbage and sewage. At the very first, “Night men” who collected “night soil” from outdoor privies would dump their loads into the river. Then the waste that was flushed away by indoor plumbing into the sewers, where it mixed with ground run off, ran directly into the river, untreated. Plus the landfill waste and garbages that were piles along the shore, the dynamic New York, and the East River became very polluted, and its animal life decreased drastically if we look into the earlier time.

And now, looking to the east direction if you are sitting on a circle line tour, the comprehensive water and garbage systems protect the New York City with their advanced sustainable technology, also, decorates the city in its aesthetically modern design. The metallic digester eggs have solved most of the waste problems of NYC by collecting and processing; the landfill factories next to the eggs deconstruct the wastes and recyclables efficiently; the tress help too. Chinese and French trees are imported and planted next to the landfill. They are vital, sustainable, also, global.

It is always happy to see such improvement especially when you see the polluted water becoming clean, people sailing, boating and fishing on Saturdays, or just sitting on the circle line to appreciate the metropolis. But you still worry if the system would shut down due to the shortage of energy, you still feel the stinky smell every time you pass by, and you still hearing the micro plastics problems while you are on the boat. It is like we are all complaining hoe bad the air or water and ourselves are polluted as we pollute the earth with our own hands.

Sustainable System: Reflection on trip to MoRUS Museum and its community

So, what is the MoRUS Museum? 

It is a mini museum that only has two stories, it contains a photographic journey of a radical protestant history of the Lower East Side, it is also a tribute to the local activists’ victories and achievements.

On the ground floor of the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space, from street occupations to sidewalk protests list out a dynamic and vivid history of the neighborhood’s distinctive culture. Lower East Side remained feral and barbaric for decades due to the withdraw of public service, insufficient governmental care and the abandonment of housing. But it was those certain conditions that had spawned all the movements of building takeovers, community gardens and the thriving communal activists that have served the community to a better, safer, and vigorous place. When the city tried to take back the jurisdiction of the community, when the politics and capitals tried to ruin the habitats, we saw people’s anger of losing homes or gardens, we felt their firmness and aspiration of the tribes they care about, and we admired their resistance despite the government’s threats or evictions.

Step down to the lower level of the museum, one exhibit is a bicycle-powered generator, which was used to generate electricity during Occupy Wall Street. It was undoubtedly a monumental invention for both sustainable activists and the protesters in occupation. And when the power went out after the storm, volunteers put the exhibit on the sidewalk as a neighborhood charging station for cellphones. What impressed me most was the idea of cooking for the community. Due to the withdraw of electricity during Hurricane Sandy, refrigerator and freezer went out. Markets were all throwing away the meat and vegetables that were no longer fresh. The MorRUS Museum and the tribe members volunteered in cooking and serving people in the neighborhood by recycling and preserving.

MoRUS serves as a documentary of the active, inspiring community. And the Avenue C’s neighborhood places out the achievements and victories of the preservers. By walking in the community, visible gardens adorn almost every other block. And the rooftop garden with fresh fruits, flowers, and recycling soils accomplish the building to a cozy, organic and sustainable habitat.

All of the gardens are owned by the community and ruled by the people. They collectively contribute to the gardens by working, donating and raising lifestyle gatherings to unite people of a more sustainable environment. And each process of the gardening follows strict and scientific regulations such as greens degradation, soil fermentation and grey water reusing. Kids play sands, and decorate the fence by hand knitting and weaving. And even the chickens in the garden show their hospitality to us the visitors as we are engaging in the aspiring and sustainable tribe.