Posted in Absurd, Art, art and environment, creativity, environmental art, Falls of the Ohio, Louisville, Kentucky, public art, recycled art, sculpture, Styrofoam, watershed, tagged Art, artist at exit 0, bottle tree, Falls of the Ohio, found materials, nature, photography, plastic bottles, recycled art, ritual, site specific art, spring, Styrofoam, trashy story on March 24, 2012 |
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On a variable day where the sun played hide and seek among the clouds, I visited the Falls of the Ohio to see what there was to see and experience. Thus far, Spring is shaping up to be much warmer than normal and many different plants in the city where I live have flowered early. I was curious to see if this pattern was holding true with the trees out by the river? Upon arrival, I could see that the trees hadn’t “leafed-out” and so I directed my attentions to a slightly high and wild river. I began looking for river treasures when I met this strange fellow.
He called himself the “Guardian” and he was doing the same thing as me. Namely walking along the edge of the river and picking up objects that were washing ashore. The water level has been high and many of the youngest willow trees were poking out of the sand like large hairs on the back of some big animal you can’t totally see because it’s that huge. I tagged along with the Guardian and we conversed freely. It’s funny how no two beings react in the same way to the “treasures” the river offers up. For example, people are always trying to give me driftwood that they think I will like. Rarely, am I attracted to their finds. Driftwood aesthetics is a matter of personal taste as is the attraction for all the other stuff that washes up here. I didn’t think anything at all as the Guardian started collecting plastic bottles. While those bottles held little interest for me…the polystyrene chunks I was stuffing into my collecting bag held no interest to the Guardian whatsoever.
The Guardian was keying on green plastic bottles in particular. I had to know why these bottles and what was he going to do with them? And then there was the added mystery of his name. If he’s the Guardian…what is he guarding? My new friend said he would be glad to tell me, but it would in fact, be easier to show me. Together we walked up the shore to the tree line where my new friend had a project he was working on.
I was amazed to see that he had planted a river-polished cedar trunk into the sand and had attached his green plastic bottles to the nubs that were once branches of this tree. Judging by his project’s progress…he had been hard at work before I ran into him. Here’s another view that shows where he positioned his bottle tree.
He told me he had been doing this activity once a year for many years and that he is called the Guardian because he is the protector of this particular ritual. It’s purpose is to awaken the coming of Spring after a period of dormancy. There are other beings like himself that are scattered across the planet and serve the same or similar functions through their various rituals. As he added new bottles to his tree, the Guardian chided me in a friendly way saying did I think the seasons just transitioned on their own? The Earth in fact needs the help of all who love her to keep her from falling into neglect. The Earth needs to know that folks do care because that extra bit of genuine concern is important and provides the extra energy needed to sustain everything that lives. Otherwise, this huge task is simply not worth it and the world slips into apathy and falls back asleep.
As the Guardian spoke to me, large dark clouds started gathering overhead. The first large drops of rain began falling in the sand around us. It was time to go and I parted company with my new friend. I thought about what he told me. I guess I hadn’t considered that the very planet might also be alive and would respond positively knowing that others simply cared. As I walked home I said a little prayer of my own inside my head and awaited the further greening of the world.
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Posted in Absurd, Art, art and environment, creativity, ecosytem, Ohio River, public art, recycled art, Styrofoam, watershed, tagged Absurd, Art, artistatexit0, dreams, driftwood, Falls of the Ohio, found art, found objects, nightmares, photography, plastic, plastic bottles, recycled materials, scavenging, Styrofoam on December 4, 2011 |
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The Ohio River continues to rise and as this year draws to a close…it will go down as either our wettest ever or close to the top. At the time of this writing, we are more than twenty inches above normal rainfall. During a usual year, we can expect a bit more than forty inches of precipitation and we are past the sixty inches mark with a forecast calling for even more heavy downpours. I believe we set the old mark in 2004 for most rain in our Kentuckiana area. Okay, so all this is a bit boring I admit, however, it sets the stage for the day and this adventure at the Falls of the Ohio.
Because the river was rising, the normal shoreline at the Falls was underwater which in turn forced me to higher ground. That means today’s adventure took place on the large pile of driftwood that formed during last spring’s flooding. The large wooden mound is interlaced with all kinds of debris that floated in with the bloated river which acts as an attraction for scavengers such as myself and an acquaintance I came across today who goes by the nickname “Pig Boy”. Yes, he bears some resemblance to a pig, but as he told me…he came by this unflattering handle because he enjoys getting dirty especially by the river. ”Piggie” and I have this in common and so we get along famously. It had been a while since I saw him last and I asked if anything was new? That’s when he related to me a recent nightmare he experienced and as he spoke the following images came to my mind and through the miracle of digital means I present to it to you for your perusal. I began to hear bits of the old “Twilight Zone” theme in my brain.
As the dream begins, Pig Boy found himself on the very driftwood mountain we were standing upon. He was there because over the months this mound shifts and falls under its own weight and decomposition revealing new “treasures” originally captured by the river. As Pig Boy explained it…he was just in his own head space checking out the variety of packaging that was intermixed with all the wood. That’s when the most curious thing happened when he looked up.
All kinds of plastic bottles and containers were emerging from the driftwood pile and moving towards him as if he were a plastic magnet. Pig Boy was transfixed and unable to move as this plastic wave began to close in on him.
More and more plastic kept coming towards him and before long it started to build up around his body which made moving or running away even harder.
Soon the bottles reached his waist and were piling up even more! Not all of these bottles were empty and some of them contained river water and the backwash of old soft drinks and who knows what else? By this time in Piggie’s dream he was truly getting alarmed and he remembers this voice telling him that he needed to get out of there!
Before all these plastic bottles could completely overwhelm him… Pig Boy remembers letting out a scream because he was just so frightened. The feeling of helplessness was upon him and he forced himself to wake up which he did in a cold sweat. He recalls the immense feeling of relief when he realized that this had all been a bad dream. I could feel the claustrophobic sense of being engulfed by all this plastic as my friend relayed his story to me and I became scared as well.
And so I asked my friend after such a bad dream…what was he doing back here? He replied that he didn’t have a good answer and that he is compelled to come out here for the thrill of discovery or something like that. Pig Boy can’t help himself. Every once in a while, you can actually find something useful out here that can be recycled in some way and besides it’s nice to be out in nature. After a few more minutes and various pleasantries…we parted wishing the other well and happy hunting. I stood there on the driftwood by myself and looked up at the river which to my imagination seemed higher in the short amount of time I had been out there. My mind then turned to something I had read about how our oceans are now becoming increasingly filled with plastic garbage that coagulates into large masses and probably will never go away. That thought was in turn interrupted by a drop of rain that fell on my cheek and I decided it was time to go home too. I’ll bet we establish that new rainfall record before the end of the year. Stay dry everybody.
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Posted in Absurd, Art, art and environment, collections, creativity, Originality, recycled art, unusual collection, tagged Art, color spectrum, design, Falls of the Ohio, Kentucky, Louisville, plastic bottles on July 17, 2010 |
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This post is actually to announce a new collection that I have added to my pages section. It’s more of an experiment…an idea that I have had for a while and only just now put it together. Plastic bottles are objects that I have been photographing at the Falls of the Ohio for a couple of years now. I see so many of these that I decided to order my image collection roughly by what color the bottles are. I remember seeing works by Tony Cragg that were made with fine gradations of colored plastic in fact our local Speed Museum used to exhibit one in their permanent collection. So, I guess I’m counting his work among the influences for this piece along with your standard box of crayons! Most of these bottles originally contained soap solutions (laundry detergent, shampoo, dish washing liquid) or various car care products (oil, anti-freeze, gas treatments, etc…). Of course, since they are all made of plastic, they are also derived from petroleum. I think the best way to view this collection is to stroll down fairly quickly. I think I will try to add to this collection as I go along throughout my Falls of the Ohio Project and see where it goes. Look under my Pages section and look for the Plastic Bottle Color Spectrum tag. Thanks!
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Posted in Absurd, Art, art and environment, creativity, ecosytem, environmental art, Falls of the Ohio, fresh water, Green, Louisville, Kentucky, nature, Ohio River, Originality, public art, recycled art, sculpture, Styrofoam, watershed, tagged Art, creativity, found object art, Ohio River, plastic bottles, Styrofoam sculpture on November 27, 2009 |
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This is my 1ooth post! I was really looking forward to writing this about two weeks a go when my computer crashed! The real horror was that many of my Falls of the Ohio project images weren’t backed up. I do have stuff on flash drives, CDs, memory cards, and yes, this blog, but the hard drive of my computer has the majority of my pictures. That’s about three years worth of this project. I still have another three years that’s completely analog-based that I could scan at a future date. I’m not certain I have saved all my digital work, but I think it may still be there. I’ll find out tomorrow, because it was a bit of an ordeal to get the family computer going again. In the meantime, I was visiting the river and making sculptures and images from them. Here is one story that takes place after the willow leaves have fallen and turned brown on the sand. Winter’s chill isn’t far behind.
In my collecting bag were several small bottles the size used to serve alcohol aboard airline flights. I decided to use them together on a single figure. I found a piece of Styrofoam that could serve as a head and a few elements to create features. Acorns become eyes, a plastic bottle cap serves as a mouth, the nose is some plastic electric insulating cap, the ears are Asiatic clam shells, and that tuft of hair is part of an old broom. Those bottles mentioned earlier…I decided to string together like charms on a bracelet and I wrapped them around my polystyrene figure.
I conjured up this figure and imagined that he was a magic person with the power to intercede between worlds. He wears the small bottles as amulets and as symbols of his office. Bottles are important vessels because they mediate between exterior and interior realities. The JuJu Bottleman comes to the Falls of the Ohio because he knows this is a really good place to find bottles of all kinds.
Strewn among the driftwood are plastic bottles that rode the last high water to this spot. To the JuJu Bottleman, this is exactly what he is looking for. It is uncertain what he intends to do with these bottles, but they serve some kind of important purpose that we may never know. You can, however, feel a certain kind of power emanating from the collective energy of similar objects being grouped together. Perhaps they serve as a battery for the imagination? If one is good then more might be better.
Yes, I’m going to ask Santa for an external hard drive this year. I have always intellectually known how fragile this data is, but my recent computer problem has accentuated that. Pixels are like tiny beads of Styrofoam that are subject to fragmentation. The notion that what happens to images in the electronic world finds a correspondence with the objects I’m manipulating and photographing in the physical world is an idea of interest to me. The internet is a river that abrades and changes images as they appear in different contexts. If I’m unable to retrieve my images from the old hard drive…I will accept that and think of it as a lesson learned. I have other new discoveries and images from the Falls that I will post soon.
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