A VON WONG PRODUCTION

Single-use plastic consumption has gone up by 250-300% during the pandemic.

And with the United Nations Environmental Assembly coming together in February 2022 to discuss a global plastic treaty, we need to put pressure on world leaders to get the situation under control!

As an artist and activist, I’m always looking for exciting ways to make the boring problem of plastic pollution more interesting. I’ve created campaigns from 168,000 plastic straws, 18,000 plastic cups, and 10,000 plastic bottles. But those projects only raised awareness for individual objects and never pointed to the root cause of the problem: Plastic production.

I knew that I needed to level up my projects, but I just needed to find the right partner willing to take a chance on a brand new big idea first.

Lucky for me, the Embassy of Canada in France accepted my proposal to build an art installation to raise awareness for plastics. This was my chance to create more than a piece of art. It was my chance to create a symbol inviting the world to #TurnOffThePlasticTap

TLDR:
Our faucet was built from used ventilation ducts scavenged from a building that was about to be demolished

I wanted to embody the spirit of reuse for this entire project. That meant finding folks that believed in the same! The kind folks at Delsan-Aim provided us with access to a building that was about to be demolished so that we could scavenge pieces of ventilation duct to bring our art installation to life.

We collected hundreds of pounds of galvanized steel ventilation ducts in different shapes and sizes.

It was then cut, painted, and adapted to fit a manual forklift

We found a local fabrication shop called Gaufab Inc to help us transform over 200lbs of ventilation duct into a giant faucet that would fit safely onto the SLC-24 - a forklift that could be found almost anywhere in the world.

In less than 60 seconds, the forklift could reach a maximum extension with a capacity of 650lbs!

we could take over the entire city with plastics

Almost every single piece of plastic that has ever been created still exists on this planet. If we don't do anything about it, it is my nephew's generation, and every generation after that will have to live with the consequences.

My nephew Kody and his friend Osiris exploring a contaminated playground – Sony A7r-IV with a 16-35mm f2.8 | 1/250th Sec, f8, ISO 50

The plastics were held together with rope made from plastic bottles

My dad helped me build a small tool out of wood, and a razor blade with the help of a YouTube video that we found online after my friend and fellow artist Aurora Robson recommended it to us. She told us that PET plastics could hold a ton of weight if we kept them thick enough. She wasn’t wrong!

In just a couple days, we converted over 100 plastic bottles into rope.

Each piece had to be sorted, poked, and threaded together

With the help of dozens of volunteers, we spent over a week organizing and preparing the plastics at the headquarters of YAM, a local community organization dedicated to protecting the environment.

We sorted the plastics into three different categories: Transparent, mixed, and black. Did you know that black plastics are unrecyclable in most places?

So we could easily set up and tear down the installation within a single day, and photograph it in multiple locations!

Millions of tons of unrecyclable and contaminated plastic waste are exported to poorer countries every year. These countries don't have the facilities to manage the waste, and it often bleeds straight back into our environment. Although it's hard to do, the best thing we can do is reduce our plastic consumption.

My mom posing as a construction worker in an active container yard. Shot on the Sony A7r-IV with a 16-35mm f2.8 | 1/250th Sec, f11, ISO 50

We used smoke and mirrors to light up our faucet

Since the installation was so tall, the cheapest and most efficient way to light up our faucet was using mirrors provided by our volunteers. To help diffuse the light and add a sense of magic on location, we used a simple bee smoker loaded with organic hay (more environmentally friendly than running a generator!)

In total, we had 5 mirrors and 2 bee smokers that we brought to every shoot.

And a collection of flashes to light up the models.

Volunteers brought whatever lighting they had to the project for us to use. We used everything from speedlights to Godox strobes to top-of-the-line Broncolor Move packs. We ended up frankensteining three triggers one on top of the other to trigger all of our lights!

Sony A7r-IV with a 16-35mm f2.8 along with triggers from Broncolor, Godox, and PocketWizard. And that huge umbrella? That was a Para 222 I borrowed from Broncolor.

All that remained, was for us to wait for the sun and clouds to get into the perfect position

With more than a truckload of plastic flowing into the ocean every 60 seconds, we need to take our heads out of the sand and start looking beyond beach cleanups. Unless we start by turning off the plastic tap, the problem will only get worst - regardless of how many cleanups we perform!

I used an app called Sunseeker to predict the position of the sun while scouting this beach in Oka. Shot on the  Sony A7r-IV with a 16-35mm f2.8 | 1/250th Sec, f11, ISO 50

We found single-use boat wraps to hide our forklift

Every winter, boats here get shrink-wrapped to protect them against the elements. We reached out to a boat repair shop and asked them if we could recover their tarps and they were more than happy to give them to us. They told us that local waste management facilities can’t recycle them.

We used the wraps to help cover the forklift and define the flow of the plastics on the ground.

And used guide ropes and a wooden foundation to stabilize the faucet

To ensure that the faucet would be level, my friend Guillaume helped us build a small foundation from upcycled wood that we could place under the forklift. Gaufab installed eyelets into the faucet so we could tie thin matte black guide ropes at a 45-degree angle to guarantee it wouldn’t blow over with a heavy gust of wind.

T-bar posts were planted into the soft sand to create anchor points for our faucet.

It would take us five hours to set up the faucet, and two hours to capture the perfect shot.

Over 2/3rds of the world’s plastics end up in landfills like this one. Finding access to a landfill was a challenge, but we managed to find a local family-owned company called Groupe Bellemare to help us out. They recycle 75% of the waste they receive into new products, with the landfill reserved exclusively for materials too hard to recycle.

Yep. We really put my nephew into the landfill to capture this image!

Hundreds of volunteers contributed thousands of hours to bring this project to life

Volunteers came from all walks of life. Young and old. Friends and strangers. Some spent hours helping while others like my parents spent weeks! One thing is for sure, this project would never have happened without the help of so many rockstars. If you want to participate in a future project, please drop me a line!

The list of credits is hundreds of people long! Scroll down to the bottom to see all the names!

But this is just the beginning! We’re inviting everyone to help spread awareness!

If you want to help us spread awareness, head over here to see how you can help! If you are an artist or creative that would like to participate, join us in creating a remix of the Giant Plastic Tap between the 4th of October and the 4th of November which automatically enters you into a $10,000 prize pool! (Direct instructions to enter here) If you need some inspiration, check out and share some of the amazing work that other artists have created so far! (Find their work in our media center)

And now it’s your turn. Learn how you can help us #TurnOffThePlasticTap and earn over $10,000 of prizes!

Knowing what to do is hard. That’s why I’ve collected resources from over a dozen of the biggest non-profits in the industry on how you can take action today. Even more exciting, just doing the right thing enters you into a draw with thousands of dollars of prizes, including a massive 24×36″ metal print of your choice from this project. (See how you can take action and win here!)

This photo was taken at one of the recycling facilities of TOMRA in Montreal and tried to capture how impossible it is to recycle the deluge of plastic waste we’re faced with every single day.  Sony A7r-IV with a 16-35mm f2.8

MEdia, press & partnerships

High-resolution, behind-the-scenes, and other photographs:
Press, Non-Profit, Businesses

Sponsor the art installation at UNEA 5.2!
Learn More

Commercial, print, licensing and installation requests: •suzy@suzyjohnston.com

Interview requests:
ben@vonwong.com



Legal support provided by
Dipchand LLP

CREDITS

In Collaboration with: The Canadian Embassy in France

Collection and Storage of Plastics: YAM (Y’a QuelQu’un l’Aut’bord du Mur), SDC Hochelaga-Maisonneuve
Used Ventilation Duct: Delsan Demolitions (ht: Natalie Voland)
Locations:
Tomra Recycling, Sepaq (Oka), Ultradepot & Groupe Bellemare
Faucet Construction: Team Gaufab Inc.
Gear Support: Sony, Broncolor
Project Managers:
Geneviève Bélanger, Isabel Racine, Phil Boivin, Lisette Ladouceur
Rigging Team:
Guillaume Briand, Guillaume Allaire-Forget, Roxane Beaulieu, Elizabeth Drouin
Videography:
Danylo Bobyk, Tritam Chu Bedard, Lauren Guarneri
Graphic Design: Emma Segal
Digital Tech: Jessika Chiasson

Dance Team: Saxon Fraser (Choreographer), Marie-Reine Kabasha , Emmanuelle Martin, Danny de Matos, Fannie Côté, Brain Mendez, José Flores, Chad Concepcion, Ève Dupuis, Brooklyn Libao

Volunteers: AF Lepri, Alain Wong, Alison Wong, Albert Bahrampour, Alex Tong, Anastasia Stasenko, Andre Dumouchel, Savann-Andy Son, Anna Tenne, Anne T, Anne-Marie Coulombe, Anya Okhmatovskaia, Chris Nguyen’s parents, Christine Lan, Christine Ng, Cindy Ha, Claire Bihannic, Claude Campagna Lupien, Cynthia V Tomizzi, Cyrielle Noel, Daphné Mailloux-Rousseau, Derrick Hui, Didier Kaade, Dominique Duchesne, Elizabeth Drouin, Eric Chou, Fannie Wong, Florence Debellefeuille, Gillian Richards, Giovanna Gonzalez, Jacynthe Sauvageau, Jeanette Kho, Jennifer Blackaller Ruiz, Jérémy Lizandier, Jessica D’Amore, Jimmy Vigneux, JS Bélanger, Juliette Malo, Julian Stamboulieh, Julieanna L., Karine Laurence, Karyne Paquette, Kaylee Chan, Kody Cheung, Laura Luu, Lisette Ladouceur , Louise Lefort, Lukas Jay Tang, Madelyn Lakos, Maelys Fillon, Manh T. Nguyen, Marie Thai, Marius Ortiz, Milady Oanh, Melissa Couto, Nancy Lee, Olivia Ward, Osiris Gagliano Ladouceur, Patrizio Patrizio, Roxane Beaulieu, Roxanne Maite Nault, Sam Lafrenière, Samantha Dimitraki, Sebastien Ricci, Alice Jou, Sing Wong, Talar Chahinian, T. Mai, Tommy Cheung, Tristan Gauvreau, Valerie Rosen, Victoria Kelly, Zihan Cai

Follow our featured Photoshop Artists on Instagram:  @alanaleephoto @joelrobison @reneerobynphotography @storyartaustralia @clintonlofthouse @evacreelphotography @robertcorneliusphotography @adelynphotography @oliver_gammarart @hernandez_dreamphography @lassedesignen @tedslittledream @jrfromptc @krisanderson.art @miltonlightfarm @danillofacchini, @digitalartistdrew

Food and Soap SponsorsAu 14, Santana Coffee, Gutsy Kombucha, Lola Rosa, Cafe Dei Campi, Ohana Sushi, Cafe Arhoma, Jones Cafe, Cafe Antidote, Jimmy Chan – Wok Cafe restaurants, Oneka Elements, Atelier Tonic Disinfectant

Giveaway Sponsors – (Live until Nov 4th)

SPREAD THE WORD – https://gleam.io/Pvpx3/spread-the-word
Dell – 1x Precision 5760 Workstation – (Worldwide – $3000 value)
BenQ – 1x (SW321C Photo Monitor – (US & Canada – $2000 value)
Wacom – ( 5x Intuos Pro (Small x Medium x Large)  (Worldwide – $400 value each)
Think Tank – (Pro Photo Bags – Worldwide – 2x $250 store credit)
B&H – (US only – 1x $500 of store credit)
SmugMug (Photography storage and portfolio – 5x $360 SmugMug Pro Account)
Flickr (Photography Community – 5x $80 Flickr Pro accounts )
Adobe ( Creative Cloud Photography Licenses) ( 3x $120 value each)
PhotoshopCafe (3x $100 of tutorial credit)
Alana Lee ($400 of Digital Resources for Photographers)
Story Art Education (lifetime membership 1x $799 value)
Any Fstoppers tutorial (1x $299 value)
Hernandez DreamPhotography course – (3x $200 value each)

TAKE ACTION – https://gleam.io/pz8Jf/take-action
Niu – 1x UQI-GT electric scooter) (Excl. China – $3000 value)
Peak Design – (Photography Accessories – Worldwide – 3x $333 of store credit)
Solgaard – (Sustainable Travel Gear – Worldwide – 2x $200 Store credit)
SmugMug Prints (3x 24×36” metal print – Worldwide – 3x $1000 value)
Dropbox (Cloud Storage – 25x $120/year – One year of Dropbox Plus Accounts )
Sony – 1x Sony ZV-1 Camera (1x$750 value) – US/Canada only.

Non-Profits we’re supporting – (Learn more about the Calls to Action here)
WWFDemand a Global Plastics Treaty on plastic pollutionGreenpeace – Ask President Biden to champion a #GlobalPlasticTreaty
Oceanic Global – Nominate a business to go plastic free!
5GyresCombat plastic misinformation by taking the free Trash Academy Masterclass!
BreakFreeFromPlasticsCall out a top corporate polluters
Oceana –  Tell Amazon to offer plastic-free packaging choices
Lonely WhaleEnter the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize Plastic Pollution Coalition
Demand World Leaders Take Action on Plastics at the UN Climate Change Conference
Upstream
– Call on food service venues to reopen with reuse!
Surfrider Encourage your favorite restaurant to join the Ocean Friendly Restaurants program!
Ocean Wise Take the plastic audit challenge!
KEANFight the USA-Kenya Plastic Trade Deal, which would allow the export of plastic waste to Kenya #AfricaIsNotADumpster
David Suzuki Foundation Call on the Canadian government to move forward with a regulatory ban on non-essential, single-use plastics to stop plastic pollution at its source.


Thank you everyone for making this project possible! It is only by working together that we can make a difference! Please like, comment, and share. You are part of the change we need to see in this world!

In Collaboration with The Canadian Embassy in France

Collection and Storage of Plastics: YAM (Y’a QuelQu’un l’Aut’bord du Mur), SDC Hochelaga-Maisonneuve
Used Ventilation Duct: Delsan Demolitions (ht: Natalie Voland)
Locations: Tomra Recycling, Sepaq (Oka), Ultradepot & Groupe Bellemare
Faucet Construction: Team Gaufab Inc.
Gear Support: Sony, Broncolor
Project Managers: Geneviève Bélanger, Isabel Racine, Phil Boivin, Lisette Ladouceur
Rigging Team: Guillaume Briand, Guillaume Allaire-Forget, Roxane Beaulieu, Elizabeth Drouin
Videography: Danylo Bobyk, Tritam Chu Bedard, Lauren Guarneri
Graphic Design: Emma Segal
Digital Tech: Jessika Chiasson

Dance Team: Saxon Fraser (Choreographer), Marie-Reine Kabasha , Emmanuelle Martin, Danny de Matos, Fannie Côté, Brain Mendez, José Flores, Chad Concepcion, Ève Dupuis, Brooklyn Libao

Food & Soap Sponsors: Au 14, Santana Coffee, Gutsy Kombucha, Lola Rosa, Cafe Dei Campi, Ohana Sushi, Cafe Arhoma, Jones Cafe, Cafe Antidote, Jimmy Chan – Wok Cafe restaurants, Oneka Elements, Atelier Tonic Disinfectant

Volunteers: AF Lepri, Alain Wong, Alison Wong, Albert Bahrampour, Alex Tong, Anastasia Stasenko, Andre Dumouchel, Savann-Andy Son, Anna Tenne, Anne-Marie Coulombe, Anya Okhmatovskaia, Chris Nguyen’s parents, Christine Lan, Christine Ng, Cindy Ha, Claire Bihannic, Claude Campagna Lupien, Cynthia V Tomizzi, Cyrielle Noel, Daphné Mailloux-Rousseau, Derrick Hui, Didier Kaade, Dominique Duchesne, Elizabeth Drouin, Eric Chou, Fannie Wong, Florence Debellefeuille, Gillian Richards, Giovanna Gonzalez, Jacynthe Sauvageau, Jeanette Kho, Jennifer Blackaller Ruiz, Jérémy Lizandier, Jessica D’Amore, Jimmy Vigneux, JS Bélanger, Juliette Malo, Julian Stamboulieh, Julieanna L., Karine Laurence, Karyne Paquette, Kaylee Chan, Kody Cheung, Laura Luu, Lisette Ladouceur , Louise Lefort, Lukas Jay Tang, Madelyn Lakos, Maelys Fillon, Manh T. Nguyen, Marie Thai, Marius Ortiz, Milady Oanh, Melissa Couto, Nancy Lee, Olivia Ward, Osiris Gagliano Ladouceur, Patrizio Patrizio, Roxane Beaulieu, Roxanne Maite Nault, Sam Lafrenière, Samantha Dimitraki, Sebastien Ricci, Alice Jou, Sing Wong, Talar Chahinian, T. Mai, Tommy Cheung, Tristan Gauvreau, Valerie Rosen, Victoria Kelly, Zihan Cai