For five years I resided in Rochester, New York, where in like many U.S. cities, one is likely to find a variety of interesting debris, trash, and remains of human presence at every turn. I considered how these discarded objects may have indicated what transpired at any given location at any given time. Driven by disgust, yet intrigue of this common occurrence, and by how these objects once had meaning and function compared to how I now viewed them as urban litter, I saw the resulting images as documents repurposed from their lingering, slow decay.
I initiated this work by enforcing a strict perimeter where the photography would take place. For example, One Block Trash was shot within one block of my urban apartment in Rochester. At first, I photographed with the mindset of an investigator, looking at anything seemingly odd or unusual. Gradually, I began to view “trash,” or these small remnants of human existence, as artifacts of amazement. As I continued shooting, I became increasingly interested in the footprints left behind by these objects, and I began to explore the subtle traces of natural forces, such as dune grass raking across sand. The notion of the temporary condition of traces of nature seemed like an appropriate contrast to the non-biodegradable nature of human-produced litter, though both were equally visually interesting.
My objective for this body of work is to create an ongoing visual analysis of traces of nature, and of how the “ugliness” of litter reinforces the beauty of nature. This project seeks to allure viewers to the attraction/repulsion dynamic of litter. On a broader scale, I also aim to raise awareness of manmade messiness and its environmental impact, yet delight the viewer with the detail, simplicity, and straightforward nature of these photographic documents of banal, unexpectedly arranged everyday items.