Beyond Drifting: Imperfectly Known Animals
by Mandy Barker

£35

Beyond Drifting: Imperfectly Known Animals encapsulates in miniature the much larger environmental problems of an imperfect world. This work presents a unique collection of plankton specimens related to the pioneering discoveries made by naturalist JV Thompson in Cork Harbour during the 1800s. These recently found specimens are deceptive, however, and mysteriously conceal their true origin.

TRADE EDITION Hardcover, 104 pages, 23 x 17.5 cm portrait
Section-sewn binding with book ribbon; interior tip-in; dust jacket; hand finishes
59 colour photographs + illustrations throughout
Published 1 May 2017 | ISBN: 9780994791917

Plankton form a diverse group of microscopic marine organisms that are unable to swim against powerful ocean currents; they exist in a drifting, floating state, enveloped in the black deep.

As fragile as they are, current scientific research shows that plankton ingest microplastic particles, mistaking them for food. Plankton are a crucial source of food for larger creatures up the food chain – compounding the grave impact of plastics on marine life and, ultimately, humans. Plastic debris is now ubiquitous in the Anthropocene, the period since humanity has had a significant impact on our global environment, and today nearly all living creatures are affected by its widespread contamination.

The plankton specimens in this work are beautifully photographed objects of marine plastic debris, recovered from the same location as naturalist John Vaughan Thompson’s plankton samples from 200 years ago. Long-exposure photographs record movements of recovered plastic objects floating in a black void, captured on expired film and with faulty cameras. Film grain is intentionally visible, alluding to microplastic particles being ingested. Each specimen has a new scientific name reflecting early Latin origins and containing the word ‘plastic’ hidden within its title.

Designed by Mandy Barker + Tiffany Jones

The Author

Based in Leeds UK, Mandy Barker is an international award winning photographer whose work involving marine plastic debris has received global recognition. Beyond Drifting: Imperfectly Known Animals is shortlisted for the 2017 Prix Pictet, the global award in photography and sustainability.

Barker’s work has been published widely including in TIME, National Geographic, Wired, The Financial Times, The Guardian, VICE, Smithsonian, and in numerous photographic publications. She has exhibited worldwide including at The Victoria & Albert Museum, The Photographers Gallery and Somerset House in London, United Nations Headquarters and The Aperture Foundation in New York, and The Science and Technology Park in Hong Kong. She was awarded the LensCulture Earth Award in 2015 and The Royal Photographic Society’s Environmental Bursary in 2012 which enabled her to join scientists for a research expedition in the tsunami debris field in the Pacific Ocean.

www.mandy-barker.com

Reviews + Press

“Beyond Drifting: Imperfectly Known Animals is an astounding piece of work, one in which Barker takes the most humdrum of things – plastic detrius – inserts it into an intriguing, multilayered historical narrative, lends its physical form a gossamer, airy beauty, and presents the whole to us in the form of a book. Not just any book, but a replica of an old science publication from the 1800s, including mould-spotted pages, a library lending form and specimen labels.”Lucy Davies, V&A Magazine May 2017

Now, 170 years after Atkins, another British woman has produced an important photobook that echoes Victorian-era science even as it exposes a contemporary environmental crisis. Mandy Barker’s Beyond Drifting: Imperfectly Known Animals similarly occupies that liminal space where art and science converge, and its impeccable presentation exemplifies how book design can extend content.Laura M. André, review on Photo-eye

“Her images could be mistaken for Victorian glass-plate photographs; in fact they are ornate, long-exposure studies of the plastic debris that pollutes beaches in and around Cobh in Cork Harbour, Ireland.”Tom Seymour, BJP

“Beyond Drifting is a clever critique of a massive environmental problem – and, in focusing in on one small area of Ireland in particular, Barker highlights a global issue.”Mark Sinclair, Creative Review

“Mandy Barker’s work on plastic has been developing for some time. In its latest advance, she looks at micro-particles of plastic as a species of a lunatic plankton, floating about the sea, and she has included a rather wonderful pastiche book of old-fashioned science as a way of getting us into her subject.”Francis Hodgson, review from Unseen

See more
Photo-eye review by Laura M. André
Review in V&A Magazine (by Lucy Davies), Spring 2017
Audio interview with The Documentary Photographer Podcast by Roger Overall, Episode 27
Feature in Smithsonian, “These Haunting Photographs Call Attention to Plastic Trash Swirling in the Ocean”
Feature in The Guardian, “Red alert: Kofi Annan on the photos that capture our choking planet”
Feature in Creative Review, “Unnatural History: The New Creatures in our Oceans”
Feature Interview with Photoworks
Feature in The Telegraph Magazine, 29 April 2017
Preview in BJP, “On show: Prix Pictet ‘Space’ at the V&A”
Feature in New Scientist, “Animal or Mineral?”, 22 April 2017 (Issue #3122)
Feature in RPS Journal, April 2017
Feature on Live Science, “Mysterious ‘Plastic Plankton’ Art Exhibit Reveals Extent of Ocean Pollution”
Feature on Wired.com, “Is that plankton? Nope, it’s trash”
Features in DMU News: “This beach is 12ft deep in rubbish”; “Photography graduate’s powerful images published in first book”
Feature in Marie Claire Italy, “Il futuro e ibridazione”, March 2017 issue
Feature in British Journal of Photography, ‘Cool + Noteworthy’, Jan 2017 issue (Showcasing the book dummy)
Feature on LensCulture
Interview with Parley, “A Beautiful Mess”

Special notes

Artist Edition available to pre-order

* This body of work is shortlisted for 2017 Prix Pictet, the global award in photography and sustainability.

* Photoeye Weekly Bestseller
#4 for Week ending 20 May 2017; #10 for Week ending 13 May 2017

* Photobookstore Recommended titles, May 2017

Exhibitions in 2017:
6-28 May 2017 at the V&A in London
28 May – 2 July at Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh, Cork, Ireland
Through June at Nature Museum Fryslân – Noorderlicht Plastic: Fossil to Fossil
24 March – 23 April at FORMAT Photography Festival HABITAT

Beyond Drifting is held in the following collections:
The British Library (UK)
The National Art Library at the V&A (London, UK)
Foam Museum Library (Amsterdam, NL)
Reminders Photography Stronghold (Tokyo, JP)