I was left wondering what or who was the subject of toxicity in this image? Are the cups signs of intoxicated (by alcohol by entitlement) youth? Is it those that encounter the trash in the morning? Does trash intoxicate space, the visual field... or both? Does it represent the general overconsuption and pollution of plastics and petroleum?
Rather than subjects, this image portrays the absurd greening of vehicular transport. Rather than toxic subjects we get a process of de-toxifying objects and processes, in particular ride share companies. Perpetuating states of toxicity, and toxic subjects, thus also involves processes that de-toxify objects in the public imaginary.
I am reminded of the phrase "information overload." I think this image is questioning the form or organization as it is difficult to read the print and are forced to focus on the placement of items.
At first glance I notice the empty chairs surrounding Senator Inholfe. This opens the topic of "toxicty" in that the speaker seems to be speaking to no one, eyes down at the page, empty chairs all around them, isolated, speaking to themself. In the US, the conversation about climate breakdown and in national politics is currently "toxic".
Toxic masculinity! Toxic humanism! Right on, that's clever, but go ahead and make the message even more explicit. This is where photo alteration can add even more to your work. Look for some of those horrific bullfighting images you see circulating in the PETA circles online. More people should see what the killing of their food looks like anyway. But even more importantly, teach people to make connections between the brands around them all the time and visual association. I'm writing this on a MacBook right now, a machine that came with the image of an apple with a bite taken out of it. I tend to hate all the stupid Christian imagery around me that I have to deal with, but this Edenic reference on my computer got to be a bridge too far. I covered it with a sticker like many a hipster type. Quite the digression, but this is my way of illustrating what work you can do toward building critical awareness about the toxicities in our lives and the ways they mutually constitute one another. Feminist geography might be helpful for you if you want to go further with this - see Doreen Massey.
Projects like this do the necessary work of explaining how toxicity takes literal form and has undeniable physiological effects. That said, you would not always know it from promotional material. Batrec's approach to advertising solutions for this toxicity problem aestheticizes the mercury such that polluters can comfortably and innocently hire this service. The whole dynamic reminds me of Derrida's critique of forgiveness/reparations discourse, that it mostly facilitates states and actors in their search for "forgive and forget." The juxtaposition of an environmental services company and your words describing Minamata is jarring. I'd expect to see those other characteristic images from Greenpeace or whoever featuring cats gone crazy and wasted away Japanese peasants. Instead, mercury itself looks like just as beautiful an element as gold.
This image conveys the duality of innovation, where the ambitions of modernism sour into fascism and back again.
This image opens the concept of toxicity to a consideration financial burdens as a result of cancer. Theorizing "toxicity" through access (and lack of access to financial resources) is a useful way to explore how life chances accumulate more for some than others. I think it is interesting that while the critical commentary cannot directly place for whom this image would circulate, it could be potentially useful to consider how race and class may play a pivotal role in understanding this form of toxicity.
The messiness of the needles shows an overwhelming toxicity. The way the box is cut off and how it is turned in the photo stop me from having any sense of stability in the image.
Paul frames this image as a "toxic subject for Germany's cultural memory," and he uses this image to argue against the simple distinction between Germaness and Nazism. He supports this refusal by arguing that the image depicts "a monument for Nazi barbarity as [much as it depicts] a monument for German technological expertise." Is this meant to suggest that there are "survivals" or perhaps a "specter" of Nazism that still haunts the contemporary, embedded in the infrastructures that rely upon technologies developed under the Nazi regime? Is there something particularly fascist about these technologies, these infrastructures?
I am similarly intrigued and confused by Paul's notion of an "inconvenient memorial" and I would like for this to be expounded a bit more. What exactly is it that is inconvenient? Is there some inevitable truth that has been ignored but that this image exposes? If so, what might that truth be and why should we be compelled to accept it as inevitable? I am also curious to know what Paul means when he says that "culture and barbarity are closely intertwined and cannot be separated." Is it that culture is inherently barbaric? Or that all cultures have both human/inhuman dimensions or characteristics? What are the implications here?
Investigating sociocultural impacts of the technological and infrastructural legacy of Nazism is a fascinating topic and obviously ripe for theorizing toxicity, and I commend Paul to taking on such "heavy" subjects. However I am left uncertain as to what exactly I am supposed to conclude from this image and from this discussion. All that being said, I look forward to Paul's continuing work on these topics.