Posts Tagged ‘river finds’

It snowed today, it’s cold, and the river is rising.  I’m imagining that my studio site is in danger of getting swamped.  In all the years I have done this project,  I have only once been present at the moment the river carried my work away.  It was wierd watching the water inch slowly but surly towards my feet.  I had a couple of Styrofoam figures that the river just gently lifted away.  It looks like I won’t be making it to the river this weekend and so I put together a few recent and related images to present to you.  It’s all just river stuff I came across at the Falls of the Ohio.  I especially like the image of the log set on its end.

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plastic octopus, sand toy

The inspiration for this post comes from a couple newspaper articles that appeared in the Courier-Journal a few years ago.  Seems somebody found a dead, but genuine octopus at the Falls of the Ohio!  Since our fair area is over a thousand miles away from the ocean and its salty water this was quite a discovery.   How did it get here?  On occassion one hears about other unexpected sea life (I’m thinking of sharks) that have been recorded swimming up rivers.  The octopus, however, is another matter.  In the follow up article to this story the truth of the situation was learned.  A young film enthusiast was making his own monster movie and had procured a dead octopus to use as a prop.  When he was finished with it, he left it to the elements where it was discovered by a passer-by.  Mystery solved.

plastic marlin

In honor of that discovery I thought I would present a few of my own finds from the Falls that carry the sea life theme along.  I regularly collect and photograph in situ the objects the Ohio River washes up at the park.  Here are six plastic toys I have come across.  You have already seen my octopus.  The yellow fish in the above image I think represents a marlin?

green plastic seahorse

Over the years I have found two seahorses.  This green one was discovered just recently, while the orange seahorse is from three years ago.  The fact that millions of years ago this place was a thriving marine ecosystem isn’t lost on me.  Potentially, this will happen again perhaps several times before the earth itself becomes history.

orange plastic seahorse

I have come across a couple of crustaceans as well!  The plastic lobster is a toy sand mold and appeared brightly against the driftwood.

plastic lobster

One of my personal favorites is the realistic red crab I found and photographed around sunset.  It is somewhat by chance that these things would appear here and that I would find them.  Makes me wonder about the other plastic sea life that I know I missed and continued on a journey to the ocean.  After several years of drifting with the currents, these items would find a new home in the ever growing plastic dead spots that are now a fact of today’s oceans. 

red plastic crab

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Collecting Bag contents, 7/09

I have been carrying this Lewis and Clark Bicentennial light canvas bag to the Falls since the beginning of this project.  Considering the years of use, its held up pretty well.  For me, this is one of the key artifacts from this experience.  Since 2003, I have filled and them emptied this bag several times with my river finds.  This is what’s currently in the bag.  Laid out… I was surprised how much plastic I gravitated towards in this batch.  The Donald Duck image was found last week.  The Rock-em Sock-em Robot head is from this year.  This is one of two seahorses I’ve found and this one is green.  Much of the rest is potential eyeballs, noses, or whatever part needed to embellish the foam and driftwood sculptures.  I’m about to make a major purge to lighten the bag.  I don’t want to carry anymore with me than I need to and besides…I will just keep finding more river treasure.

Lewis and Clark Collecting bag and contents, 7/09

Machine and Operator, 7/09

Here’s a good contrast in before and after pictures for you.  The machine and operator was made just a couple posts ago.  This is what it looks like now.  It exploded back into the parts from which it came…sort of.  The wreckage extended over a wide area.

Destroyed machine and operator, 7/09

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mutant toy, 7/09

I tried something different the other day at the Falls.  I found the headless body of a plastic toy sheep and decided to improvise a new head for it.  The results are not much different from some of the imagery coming out of Japan.  I found a collapsing, materially fatigued yellow rubber ball and added a few acorns, polystyrene ears, and other bits of plastic and then photographed it in the riverine landscape.  My kids think it’s cute!  Here is another image of it showing the other side.

mutant toy, 7/09

I’m always finding different toys.  Some of which you can see in my Pages collections.  I recently came across two other plastic animals and here are their portraits as the river gave them to me.  I think they work with the mutant bunny as a kind of genre since they depend on non-naturalism for their effectiveness.

plastic pony, 6/09

I like that it is difficult to judge scale from these images.  They could be very large or very small.  That ambiguity has been a part of my project from the beginning.  With my other Styrofoam pieces you need to look at what else is in the picture to find clues to judge scale.  To my mind, they are all the size of life.  It’s interesting to see how the internet treats these images since that can be variable as well.  The objects get tumbled by the river, while a similar thing occurs with the images electronically.  Here is a recent plastic pony I found and a blue-eyed pink elephant too!

pink elephant toy, 5/09

Okay, you talked me into it…here is a bonus image!  This was taken during my last outing.  If the Pink Panther were one of those bog bodies found in the peat moss of northern Europe…it might look like this.  I think this was originally a large, plush toy, but the stuffing is gone now.

pink panther?, 7/09

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