When words fail me, my pictures often bail me out. I’m certainly not much of a philosopher or poet who can consistently turn just the right phrase. I suppose this is one reason I gravitated towards the visual arts. I do, however, try through words and images to create some kind of synthesis that touches upon how human nature intersects with nature at large. The Falls of the Ohio State Park continues to provide that stage for me and the river offers up many examples where the natural and artificial routinely bump into or meld with one another. This happens most commonly when we carelessly set free our man-made detritus into the environment. Following are a few examples I encountered on this outing.
Looks like a rock or a piece of wood, but on closer inspection, it’s what’s left of a synthetic deer head used for archery practice. This head probably once attached to a life-size foam body. The river has eroded the neck and muzzle away but you can still see an eye spot, ear stub, and a location where artificial antlers could attach. Once upon a time, this archery target was convincingly realistic. It’s what’s left of a fake deer where real deer exist. In the mud very close to this find were actual deer tracks. Deer have moved into Louisville and it is becoming more common to encounter roadkill within the city’s limits.
It’s Kentucky Derby time in the Bluegrass so it is fitting that I find a horse image by the river and what a horse it is! Shockingly pink with a long flowing mane that cockle burrs and other wayward seeds have become entangled. How long will it be before our Wizard of Oz science creates real horses of different colors? I’ve seen that we can already do this with some fresh water aquarium fishes. Although this toy’s inspiration is the horse…this isn’t a very naturalistic example and was designed to appeal to children. I bet I could take this horse and plant it in the ground and have some of the attached seeds germinate.
Because this is tiny, it would be easy to walk over this “prize”. This plastic ice cream cone compliments the small plastic toaster pastry I came across a couple of weeks a go. I think this might emulate chocolate covered mint ice cream in a wafer cone? I’m still finding plastic fruits and veggies, but I’m also encountering more plastic fake “processed” items including fast food standards like cheese burgers and the occasional petrochemical french fry.
Flying by at great speed and requiring a camera with an extremely fast exposure is the Swept-wing Dove. This is my latest avian creation. It’s another fake bird that came together in the context of where Audubon left his footprints. I casually put this together using found materials which includes plastic, Styrofoam, insulating foam, and I’m not sure what the brown body is made of but it’s some kind of foam as well. The bill is a pen cap found along the trail. The forms were shaped by the Ohio River and I used them as is.
Coursing over the bottom land near the river’s edge is my fake bird which is also the habitat of many real birds as well. The spring migration of neotropical birds heading northward is one of my favorite times of year. It’s a chance to see species passing through that normally don’t hang out for very long.
The insulating foam that forms the right-wing is practically the same value as the river in the distance and causes it to nearly disappear.
For thousands of years the river has been a baseline supporting life in the way nature intended. Now I see a more complicated scene where dislocated images, objects, and substances blur along the shoreline of the conventional. It’s also an odd feeling realizing that much of this trash can also possess a natural beauty of its own.
Along this stretch of the river I had these two guys tagging along and asking me questions such as “What are you doing?” and “Mr. did you make the bird and what are you going to do with it? I asked them if they were artists too and one said yes and the other didn’t believe he was. I later observed them swinging from a stout vine growing along a sycamore tree and playing in their fantasy world. Their fathers were nearby fishing at the water’s edge. I will leave now with a fuller look at the tree I often use to gauge how high the river is.