(Echoes of the Palaeoplasticene)

Time to Break Down (Echoes of the Palaeoplasticene) is an installation of a soundscape with 3D printed PLA mushrooms in the exhibition space and surrounds. The PLA mushrooms are situated in a speculative past, inspired by the scientific method of taphonomy, which looks at how bodies decay in the natural environment. The method of taphonomy is applied to exploring what evolutionary advantage there would be to a mushroom if it had evolved to grow from plastic in prehistory. Installations are accompanied by a soundscape drawing links between fossil fuel extraction and the slow process of the break down of plastic, elaborating the enduring legacy of human-made objects like plastic affecting both human and non-human beings. Designed to be durable and unreactive, plastic outlasts its surrounding flora and fauna as real ecosystems adapt to this new materiality. The Palaeoplasticene ecosystem of works address the breakdown of plastic in the environment by engaging with a speculative past where plastic-based fungi evolved in the distant past, introducing plastic to the ecosystem in pre-human history. This fictional past invites visitors to realize the longevity of the material and to engage with the implications for our current and future ecosystems.


Artist: Kat Austen
Initial concept: Kat Austen in collaboration with Indrė Žliobaitė, Laurence Gill
Production: Ars Electronica Andrew Newman
Palaeoplasticene was realised within the framework of the STUDIOTOPIA program at Ars Electronica Linz GmbH & Co KG with support of the Creative Europe Culture Programme of the European Union. 


2024 – Sea Gallery, Gyeongpo Beach, Gangneun, KR – 2024 Cultural Olympics – in Fabulous Stories to Save a Green Planet / Gangwon Art and Culture Foundation

2022 – National Observatory of Athens, Athens, GR – in Weather Engines / Onassis Stegi

There are related Palaeoplasticene taphonomy installations in Berlin, Germany; Helsinki, Finland; Dublin, Ireland and Gijon, Spain.