Thursday, March 29, 2007
There are three more days until this experiment at OPENSOURCE is done. As a family, we will step outside the game rules and go back to whatever become normal after seriously altering our shopping, eating, cleaning, and to some degree thinking patterns. So now we get to see what sticks. Will we keep any of the patterns that allow for reduction or will be just go right back to easy living? I am going to keep making paper. Paper, it turns out, is very slow to biodegrade and comprises a huge amount of land fill. So, if you want a piece of paper, let me know. I have more card stock than I know what to do with.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Sunday, March 25, 2007
I just got home from a four day visit to Philadelphia. On a lovely but wet afternoon the family took a stroll along the river to the Museum. Having just read Walter Benjamen, I was acutely aware of the idea that all object housed in a collection represent a conquest or victory. All conquests suggest brutality. But is was in the cafe that the brutality really hit me. I can look at art for a good solid hour before I need a coffee break. I had my handy cup with me, but once we got to the cafe the family was starved. The food was fresh and good, a nice salad bar with grilled veggie, feta, and olives. The main dishes were cooked on the spot. The problem was the souvenirs. Everything was served on Styrofoam with plastic cutlery and paper napkins. The water, the coffee, juices, sodas, all had throw away cups. I sat and watch a steady line of folks rack up more souvenirs in 25 minutes than our entire family of five in two weeks. Besides the cooks and cashiers, the only other full time staff in the room were two and sometimes three trash collectors making sure that the 6 thrash cans never overflowed. This institution is certainly making some lasting imprint on human culture, I'm just not sure its the one they intended. This trip, which shook me out of my active collection mode and forced me back into the world of convenience, was really depressing.
Friday, March 23, 2007
I had about 5 months to think about visually displaying the trash for this one month project. For the year long project all the collected souvenirs will be re-used as art materials. I am particularly interested to see how a variety of artist choose to display and use their souvenirs. In the end, choices, even for projects that mix art and life, come down to aesthetic decisions on the part of the artist. My choice to wrap each piece of trash was very conscious. If I had just displayed the objects, brand, utility, and lifestyle would have been the primary visual codes. Not knowing what is displayed, I hope, brings the viewer to evaluate amounts, rather than specific lifestyle choices. I hope this masking raises more questions, like Lori's, than a direct display.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
1 in household
Monday, March 19, 2007
1 in household
I have been asked more than once why I don't visualize the average trash usage for a family of five. It has even been suggested that we are odd candidates for this project since we already make an effort to reduce waste by recycling and composting (most of the time), as well as by adding labor to our daily activities such as washing our zip-lock baggies. I came to this project in two ways. First, by realizing many works I admire are by artists that engage in projects that address local needs. I began looking into the work of Dan Peterman. The idea of providing opportunities for social engagement by altering waste products seemed a natural marriage. Why not turn every abandoned and broken shopping cart into a place to sit in communities that are regularly denied park benches? Transforming discarded plastic into a 100 foot long picnic bench was an elegant transformation of waste into social opportunity.
It was around this time that I was making hundreds of rosettes out of plastic wrap. While making dinner I peeled the plastic-wrap off of a mushroom package and was about to throw it away when I realized I WAS THROWING AWAY THE VERY ART MATERIALS I NEEDED. This project was conceived in that moment. I wanted a model for artmaking that not only reduced the costs of materials for artists, but that set up a structure that strongly implicated the self in the choice of what materials we accumulate and throw away. This project highlights the consequences of every commercial action I make. I have to choose to accept or reject every piece of trash that goes through my house.
Idea: I think I can make rope from plastic. For the longer project, I can make a year long length of rope that will visualize my inability to control plastic waste. The passive collection of plastic is huge. I am currently wrapping more plastic windows from junk mail that any other single item. The paper from the envelopes is being made back into paper but the plastic windows I'm stuck with. Not only that, the New York Times comes in a lovely red plastic bag every morning.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
I just got home and was amazed both at the incredible souvenir reduction and at the amount of souvenirs I needed to process. Tom made every reasonable effort to reduce while I was away and each days’ bag was remarkably small. Still, it took me five hours to sort out paper, wrap each souvenir in that days’ New York Times and hang the lovely little packages at OPENSOURCE. That was with the help and company of my friend Chantelle. One thing I like about this project is the notion that I have a time consequence for every souvenir. I went to dinner with Chantelle and I accidentally used a paper napkin. I will meet that napkin again today when I washed it and added it to my paper pulp. For hard goods I meet them again when I wrap them. By the time I am done wrapping an object, I love it. This becomes a fetish finish. I notice the serendipity of the newpaper pattern on the objects and admire every enticing graphic oddity that inevitably happens on the surface. I also remember how I acquired that object. In this sense, this collection is like every other, a trigger for past experience. These objects are in fact a collection of souvenirs.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
People who hear about this project often assume I am recycling and only have to process and document what can't be composted or recycled. That is not the case. Recycling, while a positive step, is not a long-term solution to our environmental waste problems. The energy used and the pollution, particularly water pollution, from recycling almost counteract the benefits. Recycling and changing behavior to actually reduce consumption are two very different things. This project is about activating the decision making process to include the important consideration of trash at the moment of purchase. The notion of recycling allows for a certain amount of passivity.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Today was a light trash day. It is still challenging to eat out. I went to lunch at the Coffee Hound in Normal, Illinois and my tahini came in a plastic container. It now houses the water I use to moisten my rubber rib in the studio. Still, there is the moment of panic when the plastic arrives.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
I went shopping at the Food Coop and finally felt more at ease in a grocery. First of all, I could talk about the project and the folks there were quite excited rather than looking at me as if I arrived from frightening planet. I has planned the shopping trip so I was armed with jars, zip lock baggies, and egg cartons. The amount of food in the store without packaging was quite high. Most of the items in the store are bulk. I realize buying in bulk is slightly cheating, as the good come to the store in a container of some sort. Since it the best option in terms of overall reduction, I am allowing this slight bit of fibbing on the stats.