As the winter snow receded last year, I took an afternoon and decided upon myself to collect as much garbage along Poole Creek in Stittsville, Ontario, Canada as possible. With gloves in hand I collected bags and bags full of discarded garbage that had been carelessly thrown into the natural environment. Some items were newer, some decades old with the liquor bottles a reminder that youth can be as much careless as carefree no matter what generation. Much of the items were glass and plastic bottles. Other discarded garbage came in the form of lighters, clothing, toys, product canisters, car parts, and even a gas can. The volume of items collected in such a small area (approximately 1km) made an impact, and I wanted to express it visually through photography.
The Discarded Art Project cleanup area along Poole Creek in Stittsville, Ontario, Canada.
Discarded trash collected in 1sq. kilometer along Poole Creek in Stittsville, Ontario, Canada and displayed for effect. Items collected on Monday March 26th, photographed on Monday April 2nd 2012.
Most of the images are created in a documentary top-down fashion with the found objects placed in organized rows based on size, type, and if possible even down to the brand. Photographed on my pavement driveway the shadows of tree branches are a subtle reminder of the natural environment that these items were discarded into.
Some notes on items recovered:
- 2 Lego/Duplo blocks
- 1 pair of childrens sunglasses
- 1 childs shoe
- 4 mittens/gloves
- 1 large metal gas can
- 1 large rubber tire liner
- 6 sheet metal shards
- 6 tennis balls
- 1 car hub cap
- 2 plastic oil containers
- 1 silly string can
- 1 flashlight
- 3 body spray canisters
- 1 Jasmine tea tin
- 2 whipped cream cans
- 8 glass liquor bottles
- 39 plastic water bottles
… and many many more assorted items
- 14 plastic Coke bottles
- 10 plastic Gatorade bottles
- 9 Molson cans (one full/sealed)
- 4 Monster cans
- 2 Red Bull cans
- 4 PC cola cans
- 8 Coke cans
- 5 Pepsi cans
(there are more… but the labels are too hard to read)
Other assorted brands: RC cola, Crush, 7Up, Sprite, Mountain Dew, Mist, Schwepps, Dr. Pepper, Carling, Busch to name a few…
All together items filled 6 large garbage bags. Most was recycled although some items weren’t possible to recycle.
Although much of my photographic work touches on human interaction with nature in a fairly positive light, this project was inspired by the works of environmental documentarian photographer Edward Burtynsky in which our mindset of manufacturing, consumerism, and disposable culture is explored photographically. As a professor of photography at Algonquin College, part of my course “Creative Digital Photography” each fall touches on the documentary use of photography through social responsibility with such documentary films as 2006’s “Manufactured Landscapes” by director Jennifer Baichwal which explores Burtynskys view of an industrialized world.
I would like to invite the community of Stittsville out to early Earth Day cleanup activities this Saturday April 20th at Village Square Park and along the Trans-Canada trail. Meeting at Village Square Park 10am. Cleanup activities will last for approximately 1hr (or longer if you wish). Note: Actual Earth Day is Monday April 22nd.