I appreciate the author's concern that the images may be flat and moralizing, while they want to express more than that. I I think the images express the impossibility of dealing with all the stuff of the world. College represents a period in which people suddenly encounter themselves as responsible for diposal at new scales. One can feel unwittingly responsible for disposal of a multitude of objects that litter one's daily life and which are often imposed upon them. Dumping becomes a solution to the confounding impossibility of ethical disposal (in addition to laziness, thoughlessness, etc.) I found the series of images powerful and they brought back memories of college and the conundrums of what to really do with waste I generated for the first time.
This montage of a caricature with 'real' footage reminds me of Benjamin's concept of the phantasmagoria. The caricature speaks to the dream space of "unlimited" capitalism that promises to provide goods and wealth to each and everyone. This false promise is deconstructed by the actual footage of the collapse, which, as micro-case, fissures the larger construct of capitalism, and reveals the proximity of consumer culture and barbarism, in a similar logic as Benjamin's dialectical image at standstill, that tries to graps the bigger historical picture out of a single image of a catastrophic event.
The aseptic aspect of the facility in the pictures is what most calls my attention. This neatness stands at great odds with the dubious, illegal, conflicting, murky reality of migrant lives. It all seems accessible and, in many ways, even comfortable. Yet, the pictures purposefully leave outside any images that show this is a detention center. Cells are ironically called “east/west housing” -this is no housing; this is a place of abandonment.
Based on the author's design statement and caption, I read this image as an example of "thoughtcrime" from George Orwell's 1984, in other words an illegal thought. We are being chastised for believing the "idea" that it was the warmest year on record and told that was clearly false because the senator had a snowball in their hand.
When in the past I have been around toxic substances, especially liquids like solvents and the like, I have interacted with this material in the anthropoligical sense of the taboo. Your interest in masculinity raises the question of toxics of the body, rather than just toxics outside the body. By that I mean public health discourse about both disease-bearing living pathogens and waste products. The way these men spoke so callously about the mercury's beauty reminds me of this recent trend in masculinity, both straight and gay, to celebrate and to cherish men's semen. This I've seen described in visual studies analyses of pornography, the "cumshot" phenomenon, etc. One theory is that this sudden focus on semen has to do with fears of STIs like HIV and resulting anxieties. One starting point for exploring these types of questions would be Julia Kristeva.
The image is made up of almost all plastic materials except the needle which is not visible. Additionally, all the syringes are empty. This it reminds me of modernity's false promise of individualism. The used syringes are empty and in their collective pile within the orange box point to the social disarray produced by a medical apparatus that individualizes health, addiction, and safety.
Conceptually, the image is striking for its focus on the possibility of abstract environmental savings data to influence consumer behavior. The confrontation of consumers with the distant or hard-to-detect consequences of their purchases seems to be a common strategy in attempts to achieve sustainable practices. In this image, these 'externalities' are further rendered in a financially desirable light as "savings."
In my opionion, this image communicates the nuance required to effectively understand and address toxicity as a social issue. It also unveils the discursive risks embedded in the "common sense," where overly simplified solutions contribute to, rather than attenuate or resolve the complexity of medical epidemics. It's unsettling to imagine the provision of a box of sharp objects, intended to inject toxic substances into bodies of people struggling with addiction, as a safety measure. And yet, careful studies have shown that these actions can save lives.
The white/ blank pieces of this image have a certain organization to them and denote an airiness that works with the content. I appreciate the simplicity of the screen shots and the arrangement as well. The part of your work that deals with popular imagery up against the mundane and pedestrian is intriguing. How do we make the point that catastrophic is slow and contamination creeps? Especially in the face of the imagery you point to herein, which does make a spectacle of inevitable collapse. How could we show that contamination endures? Critics of the Anthropocene theories suggest that this view of crisis is blind to the fact that survival and development have always been a crisis for some. Disruptions to the comfortable are typically set in Western and privledged standpoints, while showing doom in the mundane makes the space between power and pollution narrow. I would also add that the photo and the current timeline of the social media posts and news articles shows a constance, a presence, and a criticalness of these issues. How do we reconcile these crucial issues with a balanced approach to apocalyptic narratives. To de-colonize contamination and vulnerability, we must show that toxic crises have existed in deep human history, most notably since industrialization. How is slow-paced toxicity equally as grim as wicked events and disaster?
I feel the work with affectual plains is very strong. This piece enacts a certain affectual swirl that anyone who has felt a strom coming will know well. This photo has bodily and sensorial information certainly, in the facial expressions as well as what appears to be a quickened pace in the strides of Pancha and Chon. The photo brings a sense of movement, temperature, and thought. The open and freshly-tilled soil suggests a certain precarity. We think about labor and bodily ways of knowing the land. We consider the farmer's relationship with weather, land, and environemnt. We see lives, bodies, and weather linked as storms connote hazards that have the potential to overpower humans.
The everyday feeling is strong. The viewer may be reminded of routine, pattern, and duty. We see memory in this domesticated land as well as future in the potential of the open field. In a conversation on climate change, destruction lurks like the dark cloud in the photo, hovering and heading directly to the people of the world who tend the soil and directly impacting those who live in direct relationship with the land.
I find the standpoint of the farmer to be utmost in a conversation on contamination. Those who live in knowledge of the cycles of the land and in intimate connection with the earth also have deep understandings of the land and atmosphere, including weather patterns. What, too, is their exposure in living in tandem with the earth and looking to the land to supply?