Sushi Roulette: Novel plastic pollutants - byproducts of novel & emerging technologies explored using novel DIY science techniques

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Piksel Pulse collaboration with S.Net Conference, UIB and KHIB

Bergen, 12th-14th October 2016 at the Student Center, University of Bergen (UIB)

Workshop / project: 3 day workshop for 15 participants.

With new technologies come new impacts. We will be looking at the unseen and hard to detect impact of our increasing use of “hidden” plastic - plastic that we can’t see, like microbeads, or that we don’t have a narrative of as polluting, such as 3D printed materials. We’ll be refining the DIY chemical tests that we developed at Piksel 2015, extending them from analysing the microplastics in fish to looking at fish market samples.

Over a 1+3 day workshop at S.Net, we’ll take the participants through a process of sample collection on a field trip onto the fish market, and an exploration of these newly developed DIY techniques, to understand better the presence of plastic in the marine environment around Bergen.

The workshops will culminate with a Sushi Roulette afterparty, where through the presence of real and dummy sushi the participants are challenged to test their reactions to the thought of consuming plastics as food.


underwater microplastic pollution, anthropogenic influence on the sea life, fish, Nordic sea, DIY biology, DIY chemistry, anthropocene, plastic contained in food, Bergen fishmarket, Bergen fish shops


Accumulation: The Material Politics of Plastic (CRESC) [1]
Ingested plastic transfers hazardous chemicals to fish and induces hepatic stress [2]

Microplastics in Norway

Distribution of microplastics in marine environments from Norwegian Env Agency
"The effects of microplastics on marine organisms are typically sub-lethal, such as reduced feeding and increased uptake of certain contaminants (e.g. polychlorinatedbiphenyls). Laboratory exposure to microplastics shows negative impact such as a reduction in the growth of marine worms and changes in gene regulation in fish."
"The significance of microplastic pollution on the safety of seafood is not known, although it is important to note that the concentrations determined in the farmed mussels and oysters are relatively small. If eating 250 g of blue mussels one will consume 90 particles, and 6 oysters of 100 g per the portion will contain around 50 particles54. Although, based upon the yearly consumption of shellfish in Europe the number increases to 11,000 particles person-1 year-1 54."
"Even though a large number of fish species have been examined to date, the spatial coverage of such studies is relatively poor with insufficient data to decipher any spatial trends. The number of microplastics found in the digestive system of fish is typically between 1 and 7.2 (Table 6). In the English Channel less dense polymers, such as polystyrene and LDPE (Table 2) were only found in pelagic feeding fish, however, less dense polymers where found in fish that fed in both pelagic and demersal waters. The plastics polymers found in the English channel are known to be used a lot in the fishing industry, which may be a possible source94." "there is considerable potential for bioaccumulation and trophic transfer of microplastics in food chains, such that higher predators, including human consumers of seafood products, may possibly be exposed to relatively high levels of micro plastics"

Marine microplstic pollution in Norway

Impact of Microplastics

Plastic poisons in the food chain
Plastic wastes are not only physically harmful. They may be chemically harmful either because they are inherently toxic, or because they absorb other pollutants that are toxic. As pointed out in a recent review [6], microplastics can be ingested by suspension- filter- and deposit- feeders, detritivores and planktivores, all at the bottom of the food web. They may accumulate within the organisms, resulting in both physical and chemical damage. They can cause abrasions and blockages. And toxicity could arise from contaminants leaching from the microplastics such as monomers and plastic additives that are carcinogenic and/or endocrine disrupting. Moreover, microplastics can concentrate hydrophobic persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that have a greater affinity for the hydrophobic surface of plastics compared to seawater. On account of their large surface area to volume ratio, microplastics can become heavily contaminated, at up to 6 orders of magnitude greater than ambient seawater in the case of waterborne POPs [7, 8].

Ingested plastic transfers hazardous chemicals to fish and induces hepatic stress
Plastic debris litters aquatic habitats globally, the majority of which is microscopic (< 1 mm), and is ingested by a large range of species. Risks associated with such small fragments come from the material itself and from chemical pollutants that sorb to it from surrounding water. Hazards associated with the complex mixture of plastic and accumulated pollutants are largely unknown. Here, we show that fish, exposed to a mixture of polyethylene with chemical pollutants sorbed from the marine environment, bioaccumulate these chemical pollutants and suffer liver toxicity and pathology. Fish fed virgin polyethylene fragments also show signs of stress, although less severe than fish fed marine polyethylene fragments. We provide baseline information regarding the bioaccumulation of chemicals and associated health effects from plastic ingestion in fish and demonstrate that future assessments should consider the complex mixture of the plastic material and their associated chemical pollutants.

Environmentally relevant concentrations of microplastic particles influence larval fish ecology
The widespread occurrence and accumulation of plastic waste in the environment have become a growing global concern over the past decade. Although some marine organisms have been shown to ingest plastic, few studies have investigated the ecological effects of plastic waste on animals. Here we show that exposure to environmentally relevant concentrations of microplastic polystyrene particles (90 micrometers) inhibits hatching, decreases growth rates, and alters feeding preferences and innate behaviors of European perch (Perca fluviatilis) larvae. Furthermore, individuals exposed to microplastics do not respond to olfactory threat cues, which greatly increases predator-induced mortality rates. Our results demonstrate that microplastic particles operate both chemically and physically on larval fish performance and development.

Microplastic ingestion by scleractinian corals
We report for the first time the ingestion of microplastics by scleractinian corals, and the presence of microplastics in coral reef waters adjacent to inshore reefs on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GRE, 18°31′S 146°23′E). Analysis of samples from sub-surface plankton tows conducted in close proximity to inshore reefs on the central GBR revealed microplastics, similar to those used in marine paints and fishing floats, were present in low concentrations at all water sampling locations. Experimental feeding trials revealed that corals mistake microplastics for prey and can consume up to ~50 μg plastic cm−2 h−1, rates similar to their consumption of plankton and Artemia nauplii in experimental feeding assays. Ingested microplastics were found wrapped in mesenterial tissue within the coral gut cavity, suggesting that ingestion of high concentrations of microplastic debris could potentially impair the health of corals.

Novel sources of Microplastics

Hiking clothes create microplastic pollution in Svalbard

We are primarily filamentous plastic particles of different colors and types.These findings show that households in Svalbard in the Arctic contributes to the discharge of plastic waste, and perhaps to a greater extent than we like to think about, says oceanographer Jan H. Sundet IMR. 

Art, architecture, design and advocacy about plastic pollution

Floating park that traps plastic: Really interesting and innovative intervention in Rotterdam: - a floating park that traps plastic waste in the river

Art projects: particularly Max Liboion and Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang, Tuula Närhinen, Nick Humphrey

iGem Plastic Republic

Plastic recycled into construction materials - this is of course a little problematic in terms of micro plastics and release of toxics as the plastic will still degrade
- and the more attractive
- wood-plastic composite for building

The Adidas recycled plastic shoe is interesting in terms of large brand assimilation of an idea


Day 11th Oct. Tuesday (from 3pm - 5pm): Field exploration. Visit and buying fish at the fish market in Bergen and other fish shops.

Day 12th Oct. Wednesday
Preparation for the workshop 10-12 AM
Lunch break 12-13h
Workshop 13-18h (activities for participants)
Cleaning 18-19h

Day 13th Oct. Thursday (from 1pm to 5 pm): Establishing an open source and open hardware lab for DIY biology, chemistry and marine fauna research. Debate: Public discussions with local scientist, environmental scientist, fisherman's, artists and interested parties.

Preparation for the workshop 11-12 AM
Lunch break 12-13h
Workshop 13-17h (activities for participants)
Debate 17-18h (activities for participants)
Cleaning 18-17h

Day 14th Oct. Friday (from 10pm to 3 pm): Closing event. Sushi Roulette: Public presentation of the outcome using all the data and tools developed and recorded during the workshop days. The workshops will culminate with a Sushi Roulette afterparty, where real and dummy sushi will be served.

Manufacturing exhibits 9-11:30 AM (processing research results, creating documentation, making presentations, editing videos)
Lunch break 11:30 - 12:30h
Preparation for exhibition 12:30 - 14h (setting up the space, setting up the exhibits)
Exhibition 14-15h (activities for participants and wider public)
Cleaning up 15-17h


Kat Austen Kat F Austen is a succession of experiences and an assemblage of aspirations. In the temporal melting-pot of her life so far she has produced work as an artist, an environmental scientist, a journalist, a writer and much in between.

As an artist Kat deals with themes of environment, social justice, communities and human relations to digital culture. She creates experiences, stories and playful installations, mixing fact and fiction closely, so troublesome. She wants to touch your heart, mind, soul, body.

Kat is Artist in Residence at the Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences, University College London, and has been artist for LAStheatre, The Clipperton Project and Utter! Spoken word, among others. She has exhibited widely, including at Museo Diego Rivera, Mexico City, Kulurbraueri, Berlin, Kreuzberg Pavillion, Berlin, The Crystal, London, Schwartz Gallery, London, Regenerate Gallery, London and Williams Art, Cambridge, among others. She has presented on interdisciplinary internationally and has run artistic workshops in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and the UK. She is Head of Research and Design at social enterprise iilab, leading the Open Droplet water sensor project, which was recently included on the Serpentine Gallery’s platform. With this project, she is focussing on co-design, physically evocative representations of data and community stewardship of water.

Kat holds a PhD in chemistry from UCL and worked as a post-doctoral research associate at the University of Cambridge. Her writing has appeared in two book chapters, New Scientist, Nature, The Ecologist and The Guardian, and she consults widely on the intersection of science, art and technology, including as a Futureshaper for Forum for the Future, for the European Commission and UK water regulator Ofwat.

The environment is Kat’s passion, and her interest is largely held by finding intellectual, experiential and sensorial ways of understanding existence in all its complexity. Her work explores the interplay between acts at different levels - individual, collective, communal, municipal, state, national, international - in the context of a global, digitally-enabled society. The aesthetics in her artworks treads the line between naive and polished, messy and sleek, humorous and disjointed. For instance, she drowned a lot of tiny people in a bath to make a point about social media. Kat has a PADI open water diving license and also licence to be crew on the yacht.

Gjino Šutić (Croatia) Researcher, innovator, artist, educator, founder and CEO & CSO at UR Institute & Gen0 Industries

Gjino Šutić, conducts research in several fields of science, such as; biotechnology & biomedicine, electronics, robotics, computer science & IT, engineering, nanotechnology etc. with a focus in the field of bioelectronics and biorobotics.

Using DIY approach to biotechnology (biohacking), he designs and DIY manufactures necessary instruments and materials.

Invented the concept of "Biotweaking" (improvement of living organisms or their components to exhibit and use their full potential) which fully defines his philosophy and work.

Since 2012. started a public work by displaying his inventions and innovations such as; SRCE, B.O.C.A., MeBUMZ etc., in a variety of scientific and art exhibitions and cultural events in Croatia and abroad. Also, started teaching as an informal educator in biotweaking areas of science.

His work combines complex electronics and biotechnology, and he often uses artistic representation for the demystification of science and for bringing it closer to ordinary citizens.

In 2013. founded and started working as CEO & CSO of non-profit citizen’s Universal Research Institute UR, where he also holds workshops, teaches and experiments. in 2015. founded and started working as CEO & CSO of Gen0 Industries - for production and development of innovations.