NEoN Digital Arts Archive

Lineart graphic of a broken keyboard


Marina Zurkow (USA)


Originally, the Japanese word manga was used to refer to “whimsical drawings” or picture books. The Petroleum Manga is a “picture book” about oil. It was inspired by Hokusai’s thirteen volume set of manga, a loose collection of objects arranged loosely by type, depicting everything from trees to demons, squirrels to shingles.

In The Petroleum Manga, each banner represents oil-derived things, organized by the specific petrochemical that informed their fabrication: PET, PVC, HDPE, PMMA, polystyrene, polyurethane, ammonia, nylon, paraffin and more. These heroic banner-size drawings on Tyvek include garbage bags, water guns, rubber chickens, taxidermy forms, food containers, credit cards, medical supplies, and flip flops, and point to our dizzying and often absurd interdependence with fossil fuels.

A book accompanied this work, featuring contributions by nearly 40 writers from a variety of disciplines. the pdf is free to download or order the print book here

About the Artist:

Marina Zurkow is a media artist focused on near-impossible nature and culture intersections, researching “wicked problems” like invasive species, superfund sites, and petroleum interdependence. She has used life science, biomaterials, animation, dinners and software technologies to foster intimate connections between people and non-human agents. Her work spans gallery installations and unconventional public participatory projects. Currently, she is working on connecting toxic urban waterways to oceans and researching the tensions between maritime ecology and the ocean’s primary human use as a capitalist Pangea.