Millions of people watched American Beauty, and millions remember that scene where the neighbor boy Ricky says that the most beautiful thing he’s ever filmed is a plastic bag dancing in the wind. But the question of what happened to that bag years later occurred to just one person.

Chinese installation artist and TED 2014 Fellow Shih Chieh Huang was that person. His spectacular and futuristic works combine his interests in human beings’ discarded items and life forms. To construct his mesmerizing pieces, the artist starts by collecting trash, such as discarded toys, computer pieces, toilet water regulators, and, of course, plastic bags, and deconstructing them. He then puts them back together to create organisms that are similar enough to deep sea creatures that we recognize them as living things but bizarre enough for us to be wary of their existence.

In order to really give his beasts a life-like quality, Huang completed a fellowship at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History to get a better grasp on bioluminescent ocean life and sea ecosystem biology. Check out the interview he did with the Creators Project to learn more about his design concept, methodology, and goals.

RELATED: The 25 Best Artworks Made From Trash

[via CreatorsProject]