Where do objects we discard end up? The moment we throw something away it begins its descent into the Earth’s strata. Archaeologists do not look to the sky for clues, although traditionally the ancients did. For them there was a direct correlation between the two. We know that the heavens influence us in physical ways, the moon, tides, gravity, the climate, etc.
All our non-biodegradable waste contributes directly to the construction of Earth’s strata. But what if these objects have a half-life? Similarly where do all intangible things go? For example, every time an item is deleted from a mobile phone or a computer it is erased but the essence of the item is still there. In this project we aim to make a recording of essence by trying to capture a fleeting moment that exists between the useful life of an object or data and its consignment to oblivion. King Camp Gillette b.1855, an early advocate of utopian socialism, whose major contribution to society was the ultimate, symbol of disposability of the throwaway razor.
We are all stratified, we wait in the queue for descent, to be discovered at a later date by archaeologists trying to piece together a reality from the fragments that we leave behind. Will our modern day objects confuse or enlighten? And how will future generations evaluate this?
The images used in this project are all constructed from random assemblages of discarded items such as plastics, computer components, paper, abandoned cars etc. Interestingly some of these objects command a very high value at the start of their ‘life’. Imagine the moment when these items were first unwrapped, the excitement of purchase, the hasty discarding of the packaging, etc.
The ancients buried valuables as well as daily objects in the hope that they would be preserved into the afterlife. A great deal of time was spent to ensure the survival of these objects through the development of sophisticated preservation techniques and the construction of elaborate tombs. In contrast we bury objects in the hope that they will go away. The philosophy of ‘out of sight out of mind’ is currently reflected in the UK of our treatment of nuclear waste and dead animals from foot and mouth disease.
Its extraordinary that whilst we pride ourselves on the ingenuity of our technology, our methods of disposal of unwanted material has remained unaltered; creating in its wake, a range of scientific examinations to unravel the full story. Examples being the piecing together of fragments from a Greek Urn or examining the remains of a restaurant meal for traces of Salmonella. We constantly try to inform the present by piecing together and referring to the fragments of the past.
One of the aspects we are concerned with in this project, is the idea that objects may exude some kind of electronic half-life. As if somewhere there is a recording of the aura of all these objects, forming an electronic database that can never be truly seen before the end of all human existence, until discovered by other life forms from the future. A Pandora’s box of trace elements of lives and objects, which can only be hinted at but never fully explained within our lifetime.
As the viewers enter the blacked out space, they break the vacuum in the same way a miner does upon entering a new mine shaft. The point of entry of the project is marked by a laser scan that triggers automatically lighting projections onto etched glass screens which unravel a sequence of images discussed above. This animation mimics the phenomena; experienced by some miners, of apparitions/ghosts appearing within the void just opened up.
The impression we aim to create is that of a world that exists in parallel to our own which contains elements we are familiar with, both visually and aurally yet re-processed in a form we cannot quite recognise. Glimpses of these images make up an alternative blueprint that we may never be able to fully decipher. It is as if the "tape" is being recorded and re-recorded over and over leaving traces and half-seen images. Every time a message is deleted on a phone, a new pattern is added and the database is irrevocably changed.
The ultimate irony being, that the meaning of life only becomes revealed after all human life ceases to exist, and is therefore open to misinterpretation by other possible life-forms or perhaps, should there be none, never read at all.