Twelve minutes is the average lifespan of a plastic bag, we are told at the start of Mark Conway and Alex Packer’s hard-hitting fusion of text, images and sound, And Breathe.
Focusing on our disposable culture where the use of plastics often blights the atmosphere, harms wildlife, and causes climate catastrophes across the world; this short piece takes the form of a few short vignettes like ‘Office’, ‘Wrapper’, and ‘Complaint’.
Bring your lunch in a Tupperware container, says the narrator to his environmentally-unconscious colleague, exhuming the memory of those parties where your mum brought back bowls and boxes of various sizes of the reusable tough stuff. We all have remnants of somewhere in our houses (if we are of a certain vintage). It may be a small matter that this colleague brings their sandwiches in cling-film each day; but then we are told that enough of this unrecyclable stuff is used every day to wrap the Earth twice over.
There are moments of confrontation: a wrapper discarded in a street, an unwanted plastic addition to a favourite burger, neither of which are received positively. The sound is discordant, first in one ear then another, with images and video matching the position. We are pulled roughly from our comfort zone and made to face the consequences of years of thoughtless use of disposable wrappers and carriers.
In such a short period of time, it is hard for a piece of art to truly make an impact. Conway and Packer have thought hard about what they wish to achieve with And Breathe, developing something which is both blackly amusing and bleakly shocking.
And Breathe is available in the Living Record Festival alongside more than 40 other shows – book tickets here for £5.