trash

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Documentary

A Look Inside the 45,000-Piece Collection of Trashed Treasures Curated by Sanitation Worker Nelson Molina

September 11, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

If, like me, you live in New York City, you’re confronted on the daily with mounds of trash on the sidewalk. While the appliances, antique furniture, clothing, and houseplants are a passing novelty for pedestrians such as myself, for Nelson Molina, the trash was his daily focus for 34 years. The veteran New York Sanitation worker, who retired in 2015 from his East Harlem route, has collected over 45,000 items of interest, all culled from his professional immersion in what New Yorkers discard.

His curatorial efforts have been widely chronicled over the years, including a 2012 profile in The New York Times, and particularly at inflection points when the collection’s future is uncertain. A new short documentary film by director Nicholas Heller meets up with the contagiously enthusiastic Molina for a look inside his curatorial process and the present state of the collection. There is currently a fundraising effort to create a permanent home for Molina’s ‘Treasures in the Trash,’ which you can contribute to here. If you’re interested in more anthropological trash projects, check out Jenny Odell’s Bureau of Suspended Objects, an archive created out of Odell’s time as an artist in residence at a San Francisco dump.

 

 



Art Documentary

Repurposing the World’s Plastic Waste: An Interview With Assemblage Sculptor Thomas Deininger

August 28, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Every year more than eight million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans. This anxiety, coupled with fears of a dramatic decline in insect populations and a global climate crisis, fuel the assemblage-based works of Thomas Deininger (previously). In a new short film by gnarly bay, clips of Deininger in his studio are supercut with footage showing the many ways that plastic has laid damage to our world’s sea creatures and environment. It is these bits of mindlessly discarded plastic that the Bristol, Rhode Island-based artist uses to create his sculptural optical illusions—which are often of the exact same animals and insects that the plastic threatens. You can see more of Deininger’s three-dimensional works built from found objects on Instagram.

 

 



Design

Mr. Trash Wheel: An Anthropomorphic Debris-Eating Mechanism Located in Baltimore Harbor

April 25, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Mr. Trash Wheel, a floating mechanism with large round eyes affixed to its hood, was installed on a tributary leading to the Baltimore Harbor in 2014. Since then, the trash-scooping object has intercepted 638,594 plastic bags, 1,000,000 styrofoam containers, 150 miles of cigarette butts, and one ball python. Using the power of the sun, the semi-autonomous machine rakes litter out of the water and up a slow but sturdy conveyer belt. The belt is strong enough to hoist mattresses, trees, and kegs from the water and into a dumpster located on a separate barge for recycling and disposal.

The device was created by sailor and engineer John Kellett who watched debris build up around Baltimore’s waterfront for over twenty years. Mr. Trash Wheel has helped lead to Maryland’s statewide ban on Styrofoam food containers (a first in the country), partly because of a loyal Twitter following by local fans who are witness to the devastating amount of trash intercepted each day.

Although Kellett plans on installing trash wheels in other cities across the US including California, New York, and Hawaii, and internationally, he had also focused on adding more trash-eating power to his local harbor. Mr. Trash Wheel now has two cousin interceptors named Professor Trash Wheel and Captain Trash Wheel who have equally cartoonish eyes attached to the front of their wide-mouthed exteriors. You can watch Mr. Trash Wheel digest its millionth pound of trash in the video below, and view a live stream of real time waste consumption on its website. (via WBUR)

 

 



Art Design Photography Science

Artful Swirls of Plastic Marine Debris Documented in Images by Photographer Mandy Barker

April 19, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

SOUP – Refused © Mandy Barker. Ingredients; plastic oceanic debris affected by chewing and attempted ingestion by animals. Includes a toothpaste tube. Additives; teeth from goats.

Photographer Mandy Barker creates deceptively eye-catching images to document the pandemic of plastic debris in the world’s waterways. Barker, who is based in Leeds, UK, works closely with scientists to collect trash from our oceans and beaches on the edges of nearly every continent. One research expedition covered the debris field (stretching to Hawaii) that resulted from Japan’s 2011 tsunami and earthquake; she has also explored the Inner Hebrides in Scotland with Greenpeace.

Barker manipulates her findings in Photoshop, mimicking the manner in which ocean water holds these objects in suspension. Swirls of colors and patterns draw in the viewer’s eye, only to realize that these visually appealing compositions consist of garbage that animals have attempted to chew, plastic pellets, tangles of fishing line, and water-logged soccer balls. The artist describes her work in a statement on her website:

The aim of my work is to engage with and stimulate an emotional response in the viewer by combining a contradiction between initial aesthetic attraction along with the subsequent message of awareness. The research process is a vital part of my development as the images I make are based on scientific fact which is essential to the integrity of my work.

Barker is currently a recipient of a 2018 National Geographic Society grant. Her work is on display through April 22nd at Mexico City’s Museum of Modern Art, at Photo London Art Fair in May 2018, at the Triennial of Photography in Hamburg in June, 2018, and at BredaPhoto in The Netherlands in September 2018. The artist’s book, Beyond Drifting: Imperfectly Known Animals, was named one of the ten best books of 2017 by Smithsonian. You can see more of Barker’s photographs on her website as well as on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

EVERY… snowflake is different (detail) © Mandy Barker. Ingredients; white marine plastic debris objects collected in two single visits to a nature reserve on the East Coast of England.

EVERY… snowflake is different © Mandy Barker. Ingredients: white marine plastic debris objects collected in two single visits to a nature reserve on the East Coast of England.

Hong Kong Soup:1826 – Lighter © Mandy Barker. Discarded cigarette lighters make reference to our single-use throw away society. The panda, a national emblem of China represents endangered species and faces away from the group symbolizing mother nature turning its back on man’s inability to take ownership of its waste.

Hong Kong Soup:1826 – Spilt © Mandy Barker. 150 tonnes of pre-production plastic pellets (nurdles) spilt from a cargo container during Typhoon Vincente on 23rd July 2012 adds to Hong Kong’s waste issues in its seas and on its beaches.

PENALTY – Europe © Mandy Barker. 633 marine plastic debris footballs (and pieces of) recovered from 23 countries and islands within Europe, from 104 different beaches, and by 62 members of the public, in just 4 months.

PENALTY – The World © Mandy Barker. 769 marine plastic debris footballs (and pieces of) collected from 41 countries and islands around the world, from 144 different beaches and by 89 members of the public in just 4 months.

PENALTY – 24 Footballs © Mandy Barker.

SHOAL – 30.41N, 157.51E © Mandy Barker.Included in trawl: child’s ball and Japanese character – fridge magnet found on the tsunami shoreline. Fishing buoy found in trawl sample, North pacific Ocean

SHOAL 33.15N, 151.15E © Mandy Barker. Included in trawl: tatami mat from the floor of a Japanese home, fishing related plastics, buoys, nylon rope, buckets, fish trays, polystyrene floats, shampoo bottle, caps, balloon & holder, petrol container.

SOUP – Alphabet © Mandy Barker. Ingredients; plastic debris that includes surface text. Ironic random arrangement of 4 pieces of plastic that suggest a warning; ‘Sea’ ‘AND’ ‘HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES’ ‘FOUL’

SOUP: Bird’s Nest © Mandy Barker. Ingredients; discarded fishing line that has formed nest-like balls due to tidal and oceanic movement. Additives; other debris collected in its path.

SOUP – Ruinous Remembrance © Mandy Barker. Ingredients; plastic flowers, leaves, stems, and fishing line. Additives; bones, skulls, feathers, and fish.

SOUP: Turtle © Mandy Barker.

WHERE © Mandy Barker. Ingredients; marine debris balloons collected from around the world.

WHERE (detail) © Mandy Barker. Ingredients; marine debris balloons collected from around the world.

 

 



Art Craft

Discarded Objects are Beautified with Colorful Coral-Like Growths by Stephanie Kilgast

April 11, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Stephanie Kilgast takes discarded objects like tin cans, jam jars, and old cameras and embellishes them with vibrant amalgamations of coral-like growths. The artist honed her detail-oriented skills by making hyperrealistic miniature food, and she continues to use polymer clay and hand tools to craft her artworks. Mushrooms, crystals, beetles, and abstract forms sprout from the everyday objects that Kilgast sources from thrift stores and trash cans.

In an artist statement on her website, she describes her work as “an ode to life, where plants and fungi meet insects, animals and minerals. These encounters are growing in a colorful swirl of diversity, and the erratic growth develops on found objects, in a dialogue between humanity and nature.”

Kilgast, who is based in France, often documents her creative process in videos on InstagramYouTube, and Facebook. In addition to sharing her work with her large online audience, the artist exhibits widely, and was most recently a part of the themed group show “Monochrome” at Art Number 23 in London.

 

 

 

 



Art

Bordalo II Opens the Doors to ‘Attero,’ a Giant Exhibition of Animal Assemblages Built with Trash

November 17, 2017

Christopher Jobson

Within the confines of an abandoned warehouse in Lisbon, artist Bordalo II just opened the doors to his largest body of work to date, dozens of animalistic assemblages comprised of his trademark medium: trash. Using locally-sourced waste plastics, car parts, construction materials, and other found detritus, Bordalo has become famous for his uncanny depictions of animals—those most vulnerable to the side effects of our disposable economy. While scale often plays a large role in his outdoor wall-mounted street pieces, the artist also created considerably smaller assemblages attached to old doors, siding, and windowpanes.

“Whether on a large or small scale, his unusual sculptural creations oblige us to question and rethink our own role as actors in this static, consumerist and self-destructive society, which exploits, often in an abusive way, the resources that nature offers us,” shares Attero curator Lara Seixo Rodrigues.

With well over 8,000 visitors in its first week, Attero (Latin for waste) opened on November 4, 2017 and runs through November 26. You can see many more photos on Facebook and Instagram.

 

 



Art

Chandeliers Constructed From Recycled Plastic PET Bottles by Veronika Richterová

October 30, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

Czech artist Veronika Richterová (previously) uses the near indestructible nature of plastic PET bottles to her advantage. By snipping, twisting, and heating the drinking vessels, she forms long-lasting sculptures that visually mirror the qualities of glass. This similarity inspired her series of PET luminaries, a project composed of fully functioning light systems in the form of chandeliers and lamps.

The included works are decorated with tulip-shaped light bulb covers, scalloped edges, and long, twisted segments of recycled bottles that imitate electrical cords. In order to protect these heat-sensitive sculptures, Richterová installs her works with bulbs and cables that produce minimal heat.

A few of Richterová’s plastic chandeliers are currently included in the 50-artist exhibition Eden Unearthed at Sydney’s Eden Gardens through February 2018. You can see more recycled works in the form of cacti, animals, and more on the artist’s website. (via Lustik)