During this pandemic, during which we are more worried than ever of contamination, I have started picking up garbage from the street.
I’m not sure picking up a mask was the safest thing to do, but it felt like the right sort of thing to collect.
Stuart and spoke about referencing or not referencing Covid19; we both agreed that there is a lot of the pandemic being referenced to a point where it may have turned into white noise and no longer has any sort of effect on potential viewers. However, in the future, stories and artefacts of life during Covid may be incredibly important/interesting, and how can one consider a project about people, stories, time, place, and myth, fact and fiction in mid-2020 and not acknowledge Covid19 and its impact on life in Los Angeles? Of course, it should show up, but again, only if it does actually show up. Some of the more interesting content within stories from diaries and journals written during extraordinary events are the daily things that were happening to the protagonists. It also serves to humanise them and allow readers/viewers slightly easier access to the larger context.
It strikes me that we put a lot more value into waste and garbage the older it gets, what is currently a political and environmental challenge will be a celebrated breakthrough for archaeologists in the future (if humans actually have a future, which is ironically partly due to all the waste) The philosopher D. Mitchell spoke poignantly about this in his presentation about archaeology catching up and bringing history alive.
As the Anthropologist Colleen P. Popson writes in Museums: The Truth is in Our Trash, ‘Archaeologists, for example, see the landfill as a giant midden, one of the most valuable resources available for understanding past cultures.’
Therefore, I have been picking up discarded items, which reminded me of my role as not just a collector, collator, but curator. There is a lot garbage to be picked up. My choice to select one thing rather than another takes me out of being an objective, scientific observer, and makes me something less objective. Some objects border on biohazards, others are too large, there is no way to collect it all, so I am making quite conscious decisions, a mask, gloves, receipts, pharmacy receipts, local fast food. I am attracted (if that is the correct word) to objects that give a sense of time and place. As discussed, I don’t want to make this about Covid19, but it can hardly be ignored. I have chosen to use the visual elements to indicate time and place, as a backdrop and canvas on which the words are set. Allowing the viewer the choice of whether to make the connection or not.
I have also been looking into stories in more general terms and how and why they are told and what role the reader/listener plays. Vonnegut talks various story arcs thusly.
“I think this rise and fall is, in fact, artificial. It pretends that we know more about life than we really do. And what’s perhaps a true masterpiece cannot be crucified on a cross of this design. Well, alright. Let’s try ‘Hamlet.’”
According to Vonnegut Hamlet’s experiences throughout the story can’t easily be classified as good or bad. Hamlet speaks with a ghost who claims to be his father. Hamlet – as well as the readers/viewers – never definitely know whether this ghost really his father, we don’t know whether Hamlet goes to Heaven or to Hell, in essence, to Vonnegut, there is no rise and fall of Hamlet’s fortunes, there are just things that happen, which he believes makes it such a great story, as that is the truth
“I have in fact told you why this is respected as a masterpiece. We are so seldom told the truth. In Hamlet, Shakespeare tells us we don’t know enough about life to know what the good news is and what the bad news is, and we respond to that. Thank you, Bill.”
It should also be stated that my project as shifted, it has taken on its own path, its own momentum and left behind perhaps its incorrect starting point and question. It has become about the way we evaluate images and stories and who gets to tell them and creating pieces of design that through not attempting to tell the viewer anything, tell a more honest story.
I once again am also seeing parallels to Edgar Allen Poe’s Descent into the Malstrom, a story of an observer viewing something that seems otherworldly and chaotic and seeing order within it and understanding it