Danger to Life Expressed in a Larger than Life Exhibition
Benjamin Von Wong, 32 year old YouTube personality and photographer, is known for his fantastical, hyper-realistic photos that have captured the attention of sponsors such as Adobe, clients such as Huawei, and more than 500 thousand ardent followers across social media and content platforms. While the forward thinking artist’s work has consistently been associated with bringing attention to environmental and social justice issues, as his dedication to communicating the necessity for a sustainable future has deepened, the intensity of his photographic projects have followed suit.
His most recent project is an installment and photo series titled The Parting of the Plastic Sea, or more popularly, The #Strawpocalypse. Scarily and uncomfortably beautiful, The Parting is a combined product of LED panels, plastic bags, and 168,000 used plastic straws, which Von Wong collected and organized through help from Zero Waste Saigon, Starbucks Vietnam and hundreds of passionate volunteers. After two weeks of simply cleaning and preparing the straws for artistic manipulation, Von Wong and his team took to the studio, creating an epic life sized tunnel wave consisting almost entirely of single use straws.
Von Wong is quick to remind viewers that this wholly plastic wave is not an exaggeration of circumstances. “If things don’t change by the year 2050,” he writes in his #Strawpocalypse blog post (which already has 18 thousand reads), “there could be more plastic than fish in the sea.” (blog.vonwong.com) He continues that “while statistics like that can appear daunting and impossible to fight against, it all starts with small simple actions.”
For Von Won, the most important contribution he can make towards a more sustainable world is using his technical background in design engineering and his eye for visual stimulation to express important stories in novel ways. Looking at his most recent artwork pieces prior to The Parting, from the “World’s Tallest Closet” (showing the ridiculous amount of clothing consumed as the result of fast fashion), to photos of trapeze artists hanging above a seemingly endless sea of plastic bottles (literally showcasing how much plastic enters the ocean every minute!), Von Wong has every intention of continuing to fuel his creativity for a better world.