Carbon Neutral and Carbon Negative Materials and Working Practices

Rupert Bunny Visual Arts Fellowship 2020 – Research Project and Audio-Visual Art Installation

PluginHUMAN are developing a new light installation called CAPTURE. This project is part of our current Rupert Bunny Visual Arts Fellowship. The CAPTURE installation will be the outcome of our fellowship research into new carbon neutral and carbon negative working practices and materials.

The research phase of our fellowship has involved developing compostable bioplastics that contain high carbon organic waste materials. We are processing and sealing this organic matter in compostable bioplastic and making sculptural forms from the bioplastics. These forms will surround addressable LED lights and this creative work will ultimately become an immersive audio-visual light installation. All of the compostable materials will be buried at the end of the installation in order to contain and stabilise the carbon over time.

The outcome of our fellowship research will be exhibited in 2020-21. Following the conclusion of our fellowship, we will conduct further research in order to better measure and maximise ways that our buried bioplastic can be stabilised and contained over time.


PluginHUMAN live and work in an area of Melbourne (Australia) that features historic Platanus Trees (plane trees). These introduced species are both loved and loathed by locals. The leaves do not easily decompose in domestic compost systems, so the huge quantity of leaves that are dropped by these trees every autumn mostly ends up in landfill. Once in landfill, the leaves can contribute to a build-up in methane, a gas that is worse for the environment than carbon dioxide (CO2).

We have been collecting large quantities of plane tree leaves. Our research shows that these leaves are high in carbon and their slow decomposition rates may help slow the release of carbon from their leaves. We have been experimenting with sealing large quantities of these leaves in our own custom-made compostable bioplastic. Our intention is to use this high carbon bio-plastic as a sculptural material in an immersive light installation. At the end of the project all of the organic materials will be buried and we will examine how this burying process can help contain and stabilise the carbon we have captured.

Our experimentation has involved using sea-weed as the main ingredient in our bioplastics, as this reduces the carbon footprint of our materials.


The CAPTURE installation will feature 5 vertical sculptural forms and an audio soundtrack. Audiences of all ages and abilities will be able to freely explore the installation, by moving around all sides of the sculptures. The work will evoke futuristic carbon neutral and carbon negative possibilities. The sculptures will each be lit from within, illuminating the textures and materials of the high carbon bioplastics. There will be additional lighting in the installation space that will create an interactive effect. Audiences’ movements will cast large shadows onto the sculptural forms, providing a haunting reminder of the impact that humans have on our natural environment.

The LED lights that are within the sculptures will be controlled by data collected from the surrounding natural environment.

PluginHUMAN Justin Dwyer and Betty Sargeant. CAPTURE 2020. Carbon neutral and carbon negative practices and materials.
PluginHUMAN Justin Dwyer and Betty Sargeant. CAPTURE 2020. Carbon neutral and carbon negative practices and materials.


Betty Sargeant ~ Artist

Justin Dwyer ~ Artist

This project has been supported by the City of Port Phillip through the Rupert Bunny Foundation Visual Arts Fellowship.

Rupert Bunny Visual Art Fellowship


PluginHUMAN DREAM 2.2 - Interactive brainwave art installation. Betty Sargeant and Justin Dwyer.
PluginHUMAN: Betty Sargeant & Justin Dwyer. Inter-Dream: a VR Lullaby Machine
PluginHUMAN: Betty Sargeant & Justin Dwyer. BREATHE: LED immersive installation.