Visualizing Toxic Subjects

This group will serve as a collaborative workspace for participants of Visualizing Toxic Subjects -- the design project component of the Center for Ethnography’s 2018-2019 annual program, Visualization in Ethnography.

Over the course of the project, participants will publish three iterations of Photo Essays to the group for review by other participants (See PECE Resources below). Photo Essays will include one to three images (found images or original creations) along with a 200-400 word caption and a design statement discussing how and why visualizations were selected or produced, interpreted, and used to convey ethnographic understanding. Each iteration of the Photo Essay will also be assigned for review by other participants using the annotation function of PECE. This elaborate review process, extending from November 2018-February 2019, is intended to facilitate the collaborative development of an appropriate analytic language for assessing ethnographic images. In the final round, each participant will submit their final selections of one to three captioned images along with design statements describing why the image is an exemplary ethnographic visualization. There will be a two-stage (internal and external) review process in March and April. A gallery exhibit will be held in mid-May. The final digital exhibit will be published in mid-June.

PECE Resources and VTS Style Guide:

  • Capturing Toxicity: Archiving Palestinian Social Worlds
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    Found Image: “In Pictures: Gaza Water Crisis Worsens.”

    Substantive Caption: This image comes from a series of photographs by Gaza based photographer Wissam Nassar for Al Jazeera published in May of 2014. One of ten images in the photo essay, Nassar captures the Mediterranean sea from behind the silhouettes of two young appearing boys standing atop a sewage drainage structure. The boys appear to be looking off into the grey sea waters as seagulls fill the sky above them. Just beneath them, and in immediate view of photograph, the viewer’s vision of the sea is obstructed by the toxic debris, trash, plastics, and other contaminants pulled through the drainage structures out into the Mediterranean. Beneath the image reads the caption, “More than 30 percent of households in Gaza only have access to running water for six to eight hours, once every four days” (2014, Nassar). Accompanying the photo series is a short article outlining the “Gaza water crisis” and its worsening conditions.

    Design Statement: I selected this visual of toxicity captured by Gaza photographer Wissam Nassar for the following reasons:

    • The image captures the simplicities of youth and joy in the wake of visible toxicity, degeneration, and contamination.

    • Given the geographical specificity, the occupied Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip, the image reveals a specific context out of which toxicity emerges.

    • Toxicity must be examined as a utility of militarization and occupation.

    • Situated as part of a journalistic photo essay, the image invites an multi-sited  ethnography where the image along with text make legible otherwise discarded social worlds.  

    • Gaza is often discussed in terms of Israeli bombings, targeted killings, and other spectacular forms of violence. This image, however, a mundane toxicity and a banal violence.

    Captured and published in 2014, Wissam Nassar’s photo essay, “In Pictures: Gaza Water Crisis Worsens” reveals Gaza’s other war: a war of human degeneration. This particular image, while not spectacular in any significant way, captures a mundane toxicity reflective of Palestinian life. Two young boys stand atop a concrete beam connecting two sides of a sewage drain. They, like many other folks, are perhaps drawn in by the calming ripples of the sea in their distance. On the left, a young hooded boy stares out into the distance, his back to the audience. Rather, his gaze is fixed on the waters of the Mediterranean sea in front of him. To his right, another boy-perhaps a friend, relative, sibling- has his right foot propped up on the beam’s edge, with his left foot is firmly planted on the lower surface of the concrete slab. His gaze is shifted closer to where they stand, to what is directly beneath them. The calming sea waters appear to be hitting against large boulders creating small waves. Whether in the distance or crashing up against the boulders, the sea offers the boys a leisurely moment, perhaps one of joy.

    While the sea appears to be commanding the full attention of the boys, the viewer’s attention is hijacked by the toxic debris, trash, plastics, and other contaminants front and center of Nassar’s photograph. The boys are situated above the toxins spilling out from the sewage drainage site, we, however, the viewers, are immediately confronted by the accumulation of contamination. The toxicity at this drainage site reflects systems of degeneration that have become central to Israel’s control over Palestinian life (and death) in the Gaza Strip. And, this toxicity is captured here by Nassar as the banal backdrop of the photograph. Various accounts have highlighted Gaza’s ongoing suffering due to cataclysmic water shortages, run down sewage facilities debilitated by a decade-long Israeli-Egyptian blockade and Israel’s repeated bombing of water and sewage infrastructures, and harmful salt, nitrate, and chloride levels in water sources. According to the short article linked to Nassar’s photo, “90 percent of Gaza’s main water supply is unfit for drinking, and unsuitable even for agricultural use” (2014, Nassar). Here, we are challenged with the banality of toxicity. Water, a source of life and sustenance, has become a utility of power. The inability to access and adequately treat water produces a condition of toxicity that emanates beyond the frame of Nassar’s image. The logics of militarization and occupation require toxicity to leak into all aspects of life. The debris and trash accumulated and visually caught by Nassar’s lens are just reminders of the systems of degeneration forced onto Palestinians in Gaza (and elsewhere). Children, like those pictured here have become at risk of water borne diseases such as gastroenteritis, kidney disease, paediatric cancer, marasmus and "blue baby syndrome" (2018, Tolan). Thus, in capturing the two children entranced by the sea, Nassar offers up an alternative to Palestinian sociality otherwise degraded by toxicity.

    Created Image: “Toxic Topographies” from images collected and published in an article by Nigel Parry for Electronic Intifada (September 2005).

    Substantive Caption: The seven images I have organized on this single slide are photographs from the occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank. The photographs are of graffiti art painted on to the separation barrier, jithaar al ‘aazil, Israel is constructing on Palestinian land in the West Bank. In the article accompanying the images, Nigel Parry looks at the work of Banksy as a response to self-proclaimed “design critic” Nathan Edelson. In 2003, Parry, cofounder of the Electronic Intifada, received an email from Edelson requesting images of the barrier being built by Israel on Palestinian land. In his email, Edelson explained he was writing an article on the barrier, “the premise of my article is that one can argue about the desirability of a wall, and certainly where it runs, but if it is going to be built it should not be an aesthetic monstrosity” (2005, Edelson qtd. in Parry). As a result of this potentially “aesthetic monstrosity” Parry highlights the work of Banksy as a call to action against the fundamentally illegal wall itself. Rather than making beautiful this toxic site of monstrosity, Parry explains the significance of Banksy’s artwork as a critique of the wall entirely. Parry writes, “Banksy’s the kind of guy who prefers to draw a 20 foot high arrow pointing at the ugliness to encourage us to ask why the hell it’s there in the first place” (2005, Parry). The title of Parry’s article is “Well-known UK graffiti artist Banksy hacks the wall.”

     

    Descriptive Statement: I chose to highlight the images of Banksy’s art because:

    • Erected borders and barriers are inherently sites of violence, land confiscation, and natural resource expropriation. Toxic in their existence.
    • Erected borders and barriers are also inherently toxic views.
    • Elbit Systems Ltd. is the Israeli private defense contractor responsible for building this barrier in the West Bank and in 2014 they retained a bid to build the “wall” on the U.S.-Mexico border.
    • Borders produce what Glora Anzalúa calls “borderlands.” These borderlands are discursive sites of contestation where power can be re-imagined in ways meaningful to those experiencing the realities of borders.
    • The graffiti art offers Palestinians hope and the possibilities of positive affective alterity.

     

    While Banksy may have set-off alarms earlier this year when a framed piece of his artwork auctioned off at London’s Sotheby proceeded to self-shred seconds after being purchased, his graffiti work has been giving new life to the slabs of concrete being erected on Palestinian land in the West Bank since the early 2000s. Operating under anonymity, Banksy’s graffiti paintings on the “separation barrier” offer, figuratively and literally, new ways of seeing and thus being for Palestinians.

     

    Banksy’s canvas for a series titled the “Wall Project” was a concrete structure. This “wall” is estimated to reach approximately 403 miles (605 kilometers) in length when completed and stands at 25 feet high (8 meters). According to B’tselem, an Israeli human rights organization in the West Bank, the barrier denies approximately 150 Palestinian communities from their farmlands and pasture lands (“The Separation Barrier,” nd). As a result, Israel has effectively blocked thousands of Palestinians from freely accessing and cultivating their land, producing a condition of economic and environmental occupation predicated on Israel usurping Palestinian land. According to data presented by B’tselem and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories (OCHA-oPt), Israel has installed 84 gates in the completed sections of the Apartheid wall, however only a fraction are in operation. In 2016 for example, only nine of these gates were opened daily; ten were opened a few days a week and during the olive harvest season; and 65 gates were only opened for the olive harvest (ibid). Effectively, the “wall” has produced a condition of continual degeneration. Palestinian communities, farmlands, and sources of sustenance have been fractured by the concrete cutting through their land. These damaging effects can be understood as a form of toxicity rooted in degeneration, where all aspects of life are splintered off, denied any semblance of wholeness.

     

    The wall, as a method of control and isolation, has dualistic function in Banksy art: it is both canvas and prop. In the seven examples I have highlighted here, the viewer is forced to contend with the uncomfortable realities impeding Palestinian social, cultural, and economic worlds. The wall acts as the citational index from which Banksy’s images come to life. As Parry aptly notes, “familiar images...are given a dark twist designed to wake observers up from the 9 to 5 rat race” (2005, Parry). Images of farm animals, children, beachscapes, blue skies, balloons, living rooms, scenic panoramas are all confronted with the reality of inadmissibility imposed onto them by the separation barrier. The viewer is forced to take pause and perhaps tilt their head from side to side in focused observation studying closely the images as if to make sense of them. Simply put, however, they do not make sense. The horse (image 1), whose body appears to be stretched like a rubber band, peers its head out  through the small square opening near the top of the barrier while its hooves are visible through a square window towards the bottom of the barrier- a distance that is factually impossible, yet exists, much like the wall itself. In image 2, the viewer sees two obstructions: the wall and the pile of rubble, rocks, and trash immediately in front of the barrier. Almost as if emerging out from the rubble is a child atop a sand castle, with a small yellow pale in his right hand. In a sea of grey, from the wall and rubble beneath it, the child emerges perched on a sand castle in the middle of a bright blue sky. Here Banksy does not alter the geography to make way for his work. Rather, all toxic elements become part of the art installation. The trash and rubble immediately in front of his painting are worked into the art piece. In an act of continuity, the child in image 2 is present in image 3, this time with a friend, also carrying a his sand toys. Their little bodies are situated beneath painted lines which give the effect of a break in the wall, revealing a beautiful sandy beach destination, with palm trees, and blue skies. According to Parry, “much of the art he produced on the Wall visually subverts and draws attention to its nature as a barrier by incorporating images of escape” (2005, Parry). Windows, new landscapes, ways out, are all techniques used by Banksy to reveal new worlds to those imprisoned by the barrier. Take for example Qalqilya, a city in the north of the West Bank. Qalqilya is entirely bottle capped by the separation barrier, with one main entrance in and out of the city. According to Environmental Justice Atlas, an online resource documenting and archiving environmental (in)justice issues around the world, the virtual sequestering of Qalqilya has led to a loss in biodiversity (wildlife and agro-diversity), contributed to food insecurity as a result of crop damage, aesthetic and land degradation, soil erosion, waste overflow, deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, water pollution, and decreased water supply (Gamero, 2017 for EJAtlas). The barrier thus functions to erode the natural resources and life forms in its path, producing topographies of toxicity. These topographies become the canvas sites for Banksy’s work where the sheer violence of the barrier is called into question and recast in new ways.

     

    Images 4 and 5, for example, offer exit strategies. In both paintings, Banksy uses children to signify the possibilities of new ways of being and existing. At the borderland- that material and discursive site where real borders and barriers are confronted with affect and experience- we see a little girl being carried away by balloons (image 4) and a little boy at the foot of a tall ladder (image 5) extending the length of the wall- both making their exits, beyond the obstructions of the barrier. In both instances, the children carry the possibility of breaking down the border plaguing their existence. Banksy’s installations on the wall “invoke a virtual reality that underlines the negation of the humanity that the barrier represents” (Parry, 2005).

     

    Sources:

    Parry, Nigel. 2005. “Well-known UK graffiti artist Banksy hacks the Wall.” Electronic Intifada. September 2, 2005. https://electronicintifada.net/content/well-known-uk-graffiti-artist-banksy-hacks-wall/5733.

     

    2017. “The Separation Barrier.” B’tselem. November 11, 2017. https://www.btselem.org/separation_barrier


    Gamero, Jesus Marcos. 2017. “Orchards affected by the Annexation Wall surrounding Qalqilya, West Bank.” Environmental Justice Atlas. March 31, 2017. https://ejatlas.org/conflict/impact-of-the-wall-surrounding-the-city-of-qalqilya-affecting-orchards

     

  • Corporeal Landscapes: Discourse, Memory, and Embodiment In Mexico's Changing Climate
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    Rain, Family, and Sensory Experience: Imagining Quotidian Climate Change

    Caption: Brother and Sister Escape Rain Storm. 

    This image is of Pancha and Chon Alanis, brother and sister, taken during my preliminary feildwork in Coamiles, Nayarit, Mexico. I chose this image particularly because it does something that I have difficulty capturing textually, it vividly captures weather as well as bodily/sensorial experience. It also gives the observer an opportunity to visualize the field as an affective plane, where affect is being transmitted through environment, bodies present, and bodies viewing. 

    As my project attempts to articulate the everyday experiences, memories, affects, and embodiments that eventually become the foundations for which farmers are able to describe, pinpoint, and make real climate change, I fixate on images like these which capture moments which eventually become memories of "climate change." These visualizations are thus intended to be images of retrospect, in which climate change becomes articulated as the changes within one's lifetime. 

    Imagining Climate Change

    Caption: Collage of "Climate Change" Google Search. 

    This collage brings together numerous images from goolge searches of "climate change" in order to visualize how climate change is being popularly imagined, explained, and experienced. In many instances, these images appear right away, often indicating the most recent news reports on climate change. Through these searches one can see how climate change, at a quick glance, is  being represented through juxtapositions between quotidian imagery and foreboding descriptions. Images of children, farmers, and icebergs are coupled with descriptors such as "grim," "dire," and "crisis." 

    By using this as one of my own ethnographic images I hope to illustrate how climate change happens simultaneously in our imaginaries as apocalyptic specticle and everyday slow violence. I also hope to drive forward the question: how can we bridge the gap between the spectacular and the everyday? 

  • ELIMINATING TOXIC CITIZENRY: TRANSNATIONAL ADOPTION FROM SOUTH KOREA
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    Found Image: Removing 'Ostricized' Korea Brown Babies 1953-1960s

    Substantive Caption: The image is a US State Department advertisement that was printed in Jet Magazine, a magazine with a predominantly African-American readership, on March 24, 1955. The advertisement titled, “State Department seeks to help ‘ostracized’ Korea brown babies,” describes the racial discrimation that mixed-race children (whose fathers were American GI soldiers in South Korea) face in South Korean orphanages. According to the ad, mixed-race children were at risk of starvation since, according to the ad, Korean caretakers prefer to feed non-mixed Korean children first. The ad attempts to recruit African-American families to adopt these children, promising government support to adoptive families.

    Design Statement: I am interested in understanding the use of adoption by the South Korean state to control "toxic citizenry," or those members of the nation that threaten the state's biopolitical agenda in nation-building projects. After the Korean War, both the South Korean government and the U.S. government, under the banner of "benevolence," sought to remove mixed-race children, sure that they would face racial discrimination in a "racially homogeneous" society such as South Korea. Of course, the adoption of mixed-race South Korean babies to the United States failed to recognize the racism that they would later experience in the US, as well as provided a blueprint for a relationship between a feminized South Korea and paternalistic United States (McKee). It also set a precedent for the South Korean state to eliminate social issues such as racial discrimination through attempts to remove racial difference, rather than through attempts to expand notions of Koreanness. This pattern would later be repeated through the removal of children from poor families and children from single parent households. 

    Jet Magazine. March 24, 1955. Found online. https://dreamwaterchildren.net/2017/07/17/maintaining-exporting-protecti...

    Found Image: Removing 'obstacles' to economic development 1960s-1970s

    Substantive Caption: Although dominant adoption rhetoric has often framed the practice of adoption as charitable, I am interested in examining the way that international adoption operates within the global flow of capital. In the case of this graph, it is clear to see that international adoption brought in much needed foreign capital at a time when the country was undergoing rapid economic development. Not only did international adoption become a profitable industry within the country, it also spared the South Korean government from needing to create a social welfare structure to support vulnerable children and families. In other words, the “siphoning overseas of ‘surplus’ and ‘unwanted’ children allowed South Korea to direct most of its resources to national security and economic development” (Oh 2015, 195). To date, the South Korean government continues to have one of the lowest levels of social welfare spending of any OECD country. 

    Design Statement: Although dominant adoption rhetoric has often framed the practice of adoption as charitable, I am interested in examining the way that international adoption operates within the global flow of capital. In the case of this graph, it is clear to see that international adoption brought in much needed foreign capital at a time when the country was undergoing rapid economic development. Not only did international adoption become a profitable industry within the country, it also spared the South Korean government from needing to create a social welfare structure to support vulnerable children and families. In other words, the “siphoning overseas of ‘surplus’ and ‘unwanted’ children allowed South Korea to direct most of its resources to national security and economic development” (Oh 2015, 195). To date, the South Korean government continues to have one of the lowest levels of social welfare spending of any OECD country. 


    Source: Oh, Arissa H. 2015. To Save the Children of Korea: The Cold War Origins of International Adoption. Stanford University Press.

    Created image: Removing 'illegitimate' children 1980s-present

    Substantive Caption: I created this image using an archive photo from Yonhap News and a personal photo. The photo on the left is of the "Babybox" located in Seoul. The "Babybox" photo shows the following text (in Korean) displayed on a window above which says, "For children with disabilities or of unwed mothers that there is no way you can raise. Instead of abandoning your baby, grab the handle below and place them here." Below the window and above the handle, the text from Psalms 27:10 can be seen, "For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in." Below the image of a rainbow and a baby and a box, "Jesus loves you" is written (in English). 

    The photo on the right is of two banners hanging on the outside of the offices of Social Welfare Society (SWS) adoption agency located in Seoul. The banner on the left says, "We will listen to each word from an unwed mother" with an image below of a woman holding an infant and smiling down at it. The photo is reminiscent of a mother-baby post-childbirth photo. The second banner says, "Adoption is the most special happiness in the world" with an image above of a woman holding a baby and smiling. 

    Design Statement: 

    Finally, I am interested in examining the ways that adoption has been used to reinforce the hegemonic heterosexual two-parent family structure in South Korea. Since the 1980s and still today, upwards of eighty percent of all of the children sent for adoption in the 1980s were the children of unwed mothers. This percentage increased in the 1990s, so that today the children of unwed mothers constitute over ninety percent of adopted Korean children. The most recent statistics show that in 2012, ninety-two percent of the children sent for overseas adoption were the children of unwed mothers (Ministry “2012 Statistical”). This is unsurprising given the fact that, typically, when women become pregnant outside of marriage in Korea and choose to give birth, families heavily pressure the mothers to give the child up for adoption. In other words, although adoption is often seen as a symbol of multiculturalism and non-traditional, pluralistic family structures in the West, it has paradoxically stifled the acceptance of diverse family formations in South Korea, particularly single mother-headed families. 

    Source: Ministry of Health and Welfare. “1958–2008 Statistical Report on Unwed Mothers and
    Adoption.” http://stat.mw.go.kr/, 2010. Accessed 12 May 2017.
    ———. “2012 Statistical Report on Domestic and International Adoption.” Ministry of
    Health and Welfare. http://www.mohw.go.kr/react/index.jsp/, 2012. Accessed 12
    May 2017.

  • transparent visualizations and toxic fashions
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    transparent visualizations and toxic fashions

    As an anthropologist interested in sustainable fashion, my research is broadly focused on the study of objects and materiality through the intersection of design, economics, and law. For this project, I focus on the ways in which the toxicity of the contemporary fashion industry is called out, or queried, through practices of visualization. As an industry that relies on transnational production processes, visualization is a key strategy used by advocates to document the social and environmental impacts of (fast) fashion. However, it is also an increasingly important tool by which self-declared “conscious” companies distinguish their work. To this end, I am drawn to the paradoxical role of visualization as a key means by which the challenges (and progress) in establishing a more sustainable fashion industry are made transparent. In this essay I include images from advertisements and branding campaigns of fashion companies that comment on the sustainability of their work in juxtaposition with the imagery found in journalism. In addition, I include original photographs of garments that challenge how we think about the permeation of toxicity in fashion. Through these images my goal is to query why visualization is privileged as the medium by which sustainability is made transparent.

    Found Image: “Your Clothing is Toxic”: Mass Media and the Interpellation of the Fashion Consumer

    Substantive Caption: I chose this cover art from Adam Matthews’ (2015) Newsweek reporting on the environmental degradation caused by garment dyeing in India because of the role it played in igniting a conversation about the environmental footprint of our clothing. Designed by Oliver Munday, the neon color palette of this image visualizes the chemical and toxic implications of garment dyeing processes. Moreover, the juxtaposition of pink and green speaks to the particular vulnerabilities of women and the environment in the fashion industry. The ‘melting’ of a green t-shirt suspended from a hanger signifies the chemical composition of the majority of contemporary (and presumably the reader’s) clothing. The black and yellow emblem on the front of the shirt is a recognized symbol of hazard (though it represents ionized radiation in particular).

    Design Statement: 

    Drawing on the work of Althusser, I am interested in the way in which images address and interpellate viewers as a particular kind of subject within a system of power. Here, how does a combination of image and text (in addition to visual enhancements such as a neon color palette) work to interpellate the viewer to recognize their complicity in the environmental implications of toxic fashion?

    SOURCE

    Matthews, Adam. 2015. “Toxic Fashion: The Environmental Crisis in Your Closet.” Cover art by Oliver Munday. Newsweek Magazine, November 10, 2018. https://www.newsweek.com/2015/08/21/environmental-crisis-your-closet-362409.html

    Found Image: The Ref Scale: A Consumer’s Guide to Measuring Environmental “Savings” in Fashion

    Substantive Caption: This is an image from the LA-based fashion brand, Reformation. Reformation is a self-defined fast-fashion company that prides itself for focusing on sustainability in the fashion industry. In their signature slogan they claim that “Being naked is the #1 most sustainable option. We’re #2.” I chose this images because it is representative of the ways in which Reformation markets its vision and version of sustainable fashion to its consumer base. This image reveals the company’s well-know “Ref Scale” - a quantitative representation of each garment’s environmental impact. The Ref Scale focuses on three major concerns in the garment industry: water, carbon dioxide, and waste. For each Reformation garment, the company provides an ‘environmental savings’ analysis through this scale by indicating the amount of water, CO2, and waste that was “saved” by purchasing a Ref garment (compared to industry standards). This information exists as a personalized dashboard for customers to track their environmental savings for each garment they purchase.

    Design Statement: 

    I chose this image because I am interested in how toxicity, or perhaps toxic savings, is quantified within the fashion industry. In particular, what are the ways in which (positive) impact is measured and distilled among fashion producers and consumers? How does sustainability constitute or engender particular forms of value in fashion? This advertisement is especially interesting to me because of the ways in which numbers - which here signify sustainability - are embedded within a photograph that highlights and draws upon a particular ideology of a healthy environment (such as clear, blue skies) and human/environment relations (bare feet as a signifier of being close to nature, white as a sign of purity).

    SOURCE

    Abrams, Margaret. 2016. “Reformation’s Eco-Friendly Perks Program Is Even Better Than Earth Day T-Shirts.” Photo Courtesy Reformation. Observer, November 14, 2018. https://observer.com/2016/04/reformations-eco-friendly-perks-program-is-even-better-than-earth-day-t-shirts/.  

    The Toxic Waste on Your Back

    Caption Statement: This image is meant to bring to the fore the layering of toxicity in our contemporary moment. In particular, it speaks to our dependence on petrolium and the lifecycle(s) of plastic. Here, the viewer is presented with a photograph of a black women's puffer jacket from the online retailer Everlane in the plastic bag from which it was shipped. The viewer is immediately confronted with text printed on the polybag that reads "This ia a poly bag. Almost every manufactured good that ships from a factory comes in one. This one is made from reycled plastic. Please recycle it again." Within the poly bag, though, the Everlane jacket itself is claimed to have been produced from 15 "renewed" (recycled) plastic bottles. Taken together, this image at once comments on the potentialities of using industrial or post-comsumer waste (espeically waste that is not biodegradable) into objects of beauty or utiliy, as well as subverting the inverse of this materiality: the continual use and implications of virgin plastic (in fashion and other domains). 

    Design Statement: I think because this is an image of apparel (among other things) it invites the reader to try an idea/concept/worldview on for size. Clothing largely serves as a boundary object between human - nature/environment. On the one hand, it could potentially protect one's body from toxicity in a multitile of ways: from physical/materual toxic substances (here I'm thinking of hazmat suits, bee-keeper apparel), to toxic environments (NASA space-suits could fit into this category), but also from socially toxic encounters by choosing to dress in a particular way. In this light, clothing can be seeing as a shield to toxicity. On the other hand, apparel repurposed from once (and potentially currrently) toxic substances engenders space to think about what it means to wear toxicity. Wearing toxicity could be read as an index: here, the Everlane jacket coud index the toxicity of plastic waste as a global probem. But here I'm thnking more about the embodied aspects of wearing potentially toxic material: how does this image, then, invite the viewer to think about what it means to have these repurposed materials enter the apparel market? What does it feel like to wear recycled polyster? What are the implications of this? 

    Melissa Begey: Cite As

    Cite as:

    Begey, Melissa. 2019. Transparent Visualizations and Toxic Fashions. In Visualizing Toxic Subjects Digital Exhibit, curated by James Adams and Kim Fortun. The Center for Ethnography. 

    More on Visualizing Toxic Subjects

    More on Visualizing Toxic Subjects