As plastic bags slowly become a thing of the past and reusable totes take over, one group of students is putting the leftovers to good use. A team of artists from Lund University’s School of Technology created beautiful plastic bag installations ranging from delicate to heavy that resemble giant pink jellyfish. Using light, heat and air, the group recycled the plastic bags into moving sculptures.

Robert Janson, art, recycle art, recycled materials, plastic bags, Andy warhol, Mylar, sculpture
With their installations, the team, made up of Karin Backlund, Kim Öhrström, Alexander Carlén, Johan Svartnäs, Petter Nilsson, Filip Mayer, Emanuel Kjellberg, Robert Janson and David Ottosson, explores the ideas of color concepts, geometry, light and presentation to effectively transform the pieces from simple groupings of plastic bags into powerful floating sculptures. Recalling Andy Warhol’s floating Mylar balloons, the resulting pieces hover in space, moving with the viewer (and the air currents of the room).

The installation process begins with the team inflating countless plastic bags until they are taut. Then, employing geometry, they tied the bags into starburst groupings of six and eight bags, and then joined those groupings together. Gelled lights are then added, creating a spectacular luminosity as the light passes through the transparent bags. The resulting sculpture is a moving amorphous mass, looking more like a freakish (and grandiose!) member of the jellyfish family in appearance and movement, rather than a bunch of plastic bags.

The group’s other plastic bag sculptures are equally transformative.  By fully inflating larger bags and then freezing them, they were able to create the illusion of weight – the pieces look as though they were cast from bronze, instead of like they are full of air. They also “sculpt” the bags using an iron. With heat applied, they are able to melt a bag’s shape, creating more shape options without the pointed edges of the pre-formed bag. Using simple materials, the team has achieved the difficult task of transforming something that we might throw away into something delicate and beautiful.

Images © Robert Janson