Cinema is a magical space where we can step outside of ourselves to see inside of us.

Jess Irish

Jess Irish is an award-winning artist, designer, and writer who makes lyrical nonfiction films and cross-genre media. Her recent films include This Mortal Plastik, For While, and The Phantasmagoria of Offense: the male version. Irish is an Associate Professor of Design and Technology in the School of Art, Media & Technology at Parsons, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in design research, hybrid works, and new media. She lives in the Hudson River Valley, NY with her family of humans and dogs.

Jess, would you like to expand on the phrase "thing without thingness" as you refer to plastic in your film's overview?
Plastic is everywhere, yet we cannot trace it back to its source. In this way, it is such a strange phenomenon — both a feat of ingenuity and a blight as we are generating more than we know what to do with.
Given all the amazing amount of information you provided in your film along with the footage, the animation, the quotations, when did you get the idea of the map of the film you wanted to craft such as it is?
I began this film with the idea of looking at plastic through the lens of time. I wanted it to become marvelous and strange as much as it is familiar and quotidian. The Tranströmer poem at the start helped me find a way to structure it, by putting poetry at the heart of this journey. The other major shift in figuring out how to frame this is to include the whales. That allowed me a way to connect it intimately with my family, play the with the idea of deep time, and connect us to something truly magnificent.
In your statement, you mentioned that you have been inspired by Buckminster Fuller who believed that his task was to innovate in such a way as to benefit the greatest number of people using the least amount of resources. Do you believe there is a slight chance to get people aligned to follow Fuller's belief?
I hope so. I chose to end with the idea of us becoming more plastic — capable of change — as surely this is not a material that has defined us for centuries. It is actually quite recent, and we can now see the many scales of damage its is creating. Separating plastics from global capitalism, however, will not be so easy. But, it is cheap, which is why we can’t stop using it. If nations creating incentives to use alternative materials, it could done.