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What a Waste!


Photography is a wasteful medium. Consider the piles of discarded work prints, the water down the drain, the silver! In this series I have used several methods including silver prints, cyanotype, wet-plate collodion and digital photography to comment on the tremendous waste that we create as a society. 

As everyone knows, we aren’t supposed to throw stuff out. Recycle. Put your stuff in the bins so it can be made into more stuff. That’s responsible. My family would get an A in responsible recycling; nevertheless, when I do throw stuff away, I am wracked with guilt! I imagine the mountains of stuff I have discarded in my lifetime. That guilt makes me save stuff that I may be able to re-use and that stuff inspires my art. I’ve often thought that the way I make art is a form of recycling. To make a photograph you need to have a physical object. You can’t conjure it from imagination. 

I have a particular fondness for packing materials and glass. Crumpled paper used to fill shipping boxes and tissue paper stuffed into decorative bags at fancy dept. stores or boutiques and glass molded into decorative containers. (The ultimate waste - it’s all meant to be thrown out!) 

I’m envious of people who aren’t seduced by it’s “interestingness," consider it trash and throw it away without so much as a thought, never mind an admiring glance. Oh, how simple their lives must be! Didn’t they notice the random but graceful design within that piece of thoughtlessly crumpled tissue paper? Definitely worth saving! Into the crumpled tissue paper box it goes. Or the lovely, translucent, crinkles and folds in a plastic shopping bag, and the gorgeous rippled shadow the glass pickle jar casts. 

This series consists of single images printed oversized to emphasize the impact that discarded paper can have. Others are presented as multiples to emphasize the cumulative effect of common pieces of trash. And, the cyanotypes, which are actual shadows of the objects captured on paper, depict each object as “life size”, showing the amount of space that they occupy in two dimensions. 

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