Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. I’ve seen some very interesting depictions of garbage in the past few months, many of which tell the story of the things we throw “away”.
The first is from artist Chris Jordan’s series Running the Numbers. He has made some very provocative pieces, each of which figures a statistic. The images below show the waste Americans contribute. Each image illustrates one thing up close and another impression from far away.
The first image is of cell phone chargers, which gives you a sense of what his work looks like up close. But the next three are more ambiguous because it shows the piece from a distance. The second piece “depicts 60,000 plastic bags, the number used in the US every five seconds”. The third one “depicts 426,000 cell phones, equal to the number of cell phones retired in the US every day”. And the final one “depicts one million plastic cups, the number used on airline flights in the US every six hours”.
Chris Jordan has also travelled to Midway Island to document the tragedy of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the documentary film Midway.
Another artist, photographer Antoine Repessé, recently took a series of photographs with people and their waste. Below is an image of a woman in her kitchen being swollowed up by Tetra Paks.
Another artist, Jenny Odell, created a piece called the Bureau of Suspended Objects. This installation was quite interesting as Odell set up a studio in the midst of a trash collection site and played detective with pieces that struck her. She investigated where the objects came from and gradually organised her installation around them.
If you’re still skeptical about whether or not one might find perfectly good objects or aesthetically pleasing items in a dump, then take a look at the photographs of items found in New York garbage dumps: