Posts Tagged ‘metaphor’

Floating tire

What would a river clean-up be without discarded automotive tires?  They seem as ubiquitous as the driftwood in the water.  You get so used to seeing them that in effect…you don’t see them anymore. 

Tire and driftwood

That’s where having a camera can be of assistance…it breaks that circuit that prevents us from remembering that these objects should never find a home here. 

Circle in the water

Finding a floating circle in the water always grabs my attention.  It’s no longer just a tire, but the pattern of perfection, the symbol of civilization.

Beached tire

How did we become so indifferent towards them?  Isn’t the wheel the same great device it was when it was first invented?  It was once a big deal…is it no less marvelous and worthy of being disposed of properly?

Discarded tire

One of the nice things about being a parent of young children is that you can remember some of the wonder of the world through their experiences.

Sinking tire

I guess that’s also what makes photography so effective a medium…it gives the viewer an opportunity in a split second, to experience vicariously, what the photographer saw.

Sunken tire in the sand

I worry as a parent that we won’t leave this place in as good a shape as we found it.  It’s become a vicious cycle that needs fixing.

Tire Drawing

I don’t know if “art” can be the tool to make the repair?  But if we can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, which art can do, we might just recapture some of the lost wonder in the world.

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large piece of styrofoam,2/09

Since know one has asked me yet…”Why are you using that nasty Styrofoam to make your art?’…I thought I might say a few words and use this work from early February of this year.  The above image shows an especially large hunk of polystyrene about to be beached by the waves of the Ohio River.  Do you think the river, in its way is trying to tell us something?  Fresh water is such a precious resource that we should not take even what seems an abundant supply for granted.  I hauled this Styrofoam onto the beach which wasn’t easy since it was wet, very cold, and water-logged.  For years, my experiences in this park have been marred by the debris that washes up here from points north.  I had to wait about two weeks before I could do anything with this “prize”.

Refrigerator Man,detail, 2/09

Here’s a detail of the completed figure.  I augmented the large piece with a smaller chunk that could serve as the head.  Fishing bobbers, parts of shoes, driftwood, assorted plastic, and a lost life vest are the materials in this work.  Because I consider what I do as a collaboration with nature, I respect the forms the river gives me by not carving or altering them to any great extant.  I always marvel at how the river’s processes shape the Styrofoam, in ways that I couldn’t easily replicate.  This figure is able to stand because one of its arms is hooked around a tree.

Refrigerator man, in situ, 2/09

Refrigerator Man, back view, 2/09

Here are front and back views of the “Refrigerator Man”, so named because of where I sited this figure.  The refrigerator washed up a couple years ago…at least someone bothered to remove the door.  The thing about polystyrene is that although it is organic by definition (think of the carbon rings) it doesn’t occur without our help.  The resins used to make this material are extracted from petroleum…which itself is an extract of life.  Polystyrene has this out-of-sync quality to it that I feel increasingly characterizes us and our relationship to the world that sustains us.  You wonder how it is even economically feasible to make this material from what also seems a limited resource?  On this day, the river was icy and especially cold.  My nose ran constantly and my toes were getting numb.

Refrigerator Man, aftermath, 2/09

About a week later, I went back to “Refrigerator Man” to see how he was faring.   As you can see…not too good.  Some person or persons tied him up to a tree using a yellow, nylon rope and I’m guessing used him for target practice and beheaded him.  What happens to my projects is usually interesting .  In their own way, they become little experiments in human behavior.  I did untie “Refrigerator Man” and stashed his body away to be recycled into another art project for future use.

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