Benjamin Von Wong
The Environmental Impact Artivist
You’ve probably seen one of Benjamin Von Wong’s hyper-real photographs, which have garnered more than 100 million views on social media, and are so elaborate they appear to be computer generated. In fact, they’re the final captures of Ben’s larger-than-life installations, which aim to raise awareness and promote action for social and environmental causes. Since 2017, activism and community-building around these issues have been the focus for Benjamin, a former mining engineer and the son of Malaysian immigrants. In 2012, he left engineering to pursue a career in the arts; just over 10 years later, he has collaborated with corporations and organizations such as Greenpeace, Nike, Starbucks, Dell and the United Nations on global campaigns that include the world’s largest straw sculpture and a towering 40-foot tall Giant Plastic tap.
Created for the UN Wildlife and Diversity Conference in Montreal, Benjamin Von Wong’s Extinction Thermometer, embedded with skulls from across North America, is a 10-foot-tall reminder of the connection between climate change and biodiversity loss. This isn’t Benjamin’s first installation for the UN. Unveiled in front of Paris’ Musee d’Orsay for the Global Plastic Treaty Negotiations, the Perpetual Plastic Machine is a working oil rig that intersects with a plastic production line to form a giant red X. Only slightly less dramatic is his “The Parting of the Plastic Sea.” Also known as #Strawpocalypse, it’s made from 168,000 straws.