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.
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.
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.
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?
I find this image to be exemplorary of multiple instances of toxicity, particularly the ways in which history is produced through structures and flows of power. I wonder then if this image if reflective both of the toxic racisms and technologies that targeted black and brown bodies, as well as the toxictiy of the archive. The juxtapositon between your own description and the text within the newspaper clipping come together to illustrate violent racializing of Mexicans historically and now, as well as the disjuncture between "early morning hanging" narratives to the color-blind liberalism that negate or ignore such histories. This image then becomes an entryway to examine historical and contemporary narratives of violence against Mexicans.
When viewing this image, I am slightly reminded of Michel-Rolph Trouillot's Siliencing the Past as well as Ann Stoler's Imperial Debris, in which the both trace colonial power in the formations of a colonial present or a historical archive. Your image, which also conjures a historicity and history of violence, similarly ties the past and present together. This brings forth the question: How is our present made toxic?
This image created by the artist raises several questions for me about representation. Within the incredibly rich graphic novel literature on chemical and social contamination, we have Superman, the X-men, Black Panther, and companion comics. How is this a more amenable narrative approach to get people think about NIMBY and not wanting a landfill, a homeless shelter, or a prison built in the neighborhood? What are the limits and benefits to keeping humans from the frame of the image?
This image communicates the 'potential' of lead poisoning. I appreciated this image as an ethnographic object because, as the author points out, it represents the gap between reality and public discourse on lead poisoning. This object delivers the importance of imagining what is yet unknown.