Of art
and technology
9—19 May '24
Braga, Portugal

Stranger to the Trees

Kat Austen 

gnration (Galeria um)

Free admission

Stranger to the Trees is based on extensive interdisciplinary research that examines the incorporation and rejection between plastics and trees. The work has resulted in a peer-reviewed scientific article showing that microplastics cross from the soil into tree roots. This was the first publication to report this phenomenon in trees, which are important carbon sinks in the context of global human-induced pollution.  

Forests constitute a new materiality in the time of ubiquitous plastic pollution. Plastics have been found to be present even at the outskirts of human reach: at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean, in the rain, clouds and the atmosphere. 

Combining video, interactive sound and sculpture, Stranger to the Trees is a multimedia work that queries the response of forest ecosystems to the ubiquitous and irrevocable dispersal of microplastics across the planet.  

This work was developed in 2022 as part of a European Media Art Platform (EMAP) residency at the WRO Art Center in Wroclaw (Poland). 

Kat Austen
Kat Austen’s artistic practice focuses on environmental issues. She melds disciplines and media, creating sculptural and new media installations, performances and participatory work. Austen’s practice is underpinned by extensive research and theory, and driven by a motivation to explore how to move towards a more socially and environmentally just future.

Based in Seoul (South Korea) and Berlin (Germany), she is Artist in Residence at the Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences at the University College London (UK) and Senior Teaching Fellow at UCL Arts and Sciences. Austen’s field research has included a voyage around the Canadian High Arctic (as Artist in the Arctic 2017 for Friends of Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge) for her project The Matter of the Soul.

Stranger to the Trees

EMAP – European Media Art Platform is a project co-funded by the european union through the Creative Europe Programme.