Recycling litter into art
Candid explores our surroundings through what we leave behind. I started this project to experiment with ways of using elements from the environment to create my work rather than simply photographing them. While collecting materials I became fascinated by litter and the locations where I found it.
After collecting litter throughout the pacific northwest, I converted the cans into pinhole cameras. To fully incorporate these cans/cameras into the project, I photograph the locations where they were collected using the dry-plate tintype process. This process creates an image directly on the inside of the can itself. For the final documentation I returned again to photograph the finished pieces in their original environments.
Candid takes a ubiquitous symbol of consumption from its final resting-place on our streets, transforms it, and places it on the walls of a gallery. Through the visual documentation and mapping of the locations where I found the litter, I hope to give you the tools to explore your surroundings from a different angle and share the sense of surprise and curiosity I experienced while creating this project.
This project was supported by a 2016 GAP award from Artist Trust.
Seattle Center contains some of Seattle’s most iconic landmarks and is a hub for entertainment, arts, education, and tourism. As you would expect for such a popular destination, the center grounds themselves are very clean. Just beyond the edge of the grounds it is very different and I found cans everywhere along the streets.
Pike and Pine, Seattle
The Pike/Pine Corridor is a diverse, three mile long path through the heart of Seattle. It provides a cross section of the city from the tourist attractions along the waterfront through the business core of downtown and the nightlife of Capitol Hill to the residential streets of Madrona. I chose this area because it allowed me to show a different view of uniqueness of Seattle alongside the mundane.
Auburn | Bellevue
I chose to compare Auburn and Bellevue, Washington because of what these two cities represent. Auburn is the home to a Boeing plant and is a thriving hub of industry while Bellevue is home to offices of Microsoft and many other technology giants in their polished towers. These represent two of the main forces that drive the Pacific Northwest economy. Initially I was worried about finding enough cans in Bellevue’s downtown to be interesting. Once I started looking for cans that feared turned out to be unfounded and it was Auburn’s downtown where I had trouble finding them.
Tacoma: Downtown and Titlow Park
While collecting can in downtown Tacoma I was surprised to find that it was one of the cleanest cities I’d explored. While I had expected it to be much less busy than downtown Seattle, I had not anticipated how much that would change the area’s ability to keep litter under control. When I visited Titlow Park I found that this cleanness was only on the surface. While the beach at this park appeared clean, dozens of cans were hidden just out of sight.
Marsh and Foster Islands
Marsh and Foster Islands are an oasis of nature on the edge of Seattle, Washington. Near the University of Washington, the trail across these two islands is a popular spot for runners and others who value a quiet space near the city. While the parks is fairly clean, it’s easy nearness Seattle makes it a prefered quite drinking place for some and I found many cans in the water around the docks on the island as well as quite a few in the brambles. Of the cans I collected out of the water a few had been there for at least 10 years and one I believe had been discarded closer to 40 years ago.
Because Leavenworth is such a tourism based city I expected it to be extremely clean. On further exploration I found its Bavarian exterior to be not much more than a facade and that there was as much, or even more, litter on it’s streets as any other city its size.
In Sodo I collected cans along 1st Avenue from the stadiums to Spokane Street. In areas like this it’s easy to just blame litter on the homeless and lump the two problems together. While I certainly did find litter near the homeless camps I found at least as much near the stadiums and in nearby parking lots that tailgating hotspots.
I collected cans in Redmond 4 times over the course of the years to see how the amounts and types would vary with the seasons. What I expected was that there would be the fewest in the winter and the most in the summer. I ended up with the opposite, I collected the most cans in the winter and the least in the spring and summer.
As well as the above locations I found a few lonely cans at other interesting locations.