First thoughts on the final project

Waste Land (after T.S. Eliot)

Projects evolve. I began the semester investigating food waste and still life but quickly found myself in the gutter, photographing the flotsam and jetsam that flows into Cambridge sewers. From there I moved to the banks of the Charles, drawn again and again to images of plastic and garbage. More recently I’ve been trying to move away from close up shots to scenes, striving to capture less literal images of waste and decay.

I have always been interested in decay, in how things fall apart. Intimations of death are what give life (and art) poignancy and meaning. Light is meaningless without shadow. Order is both elusive and illusive—as in the “decisive” moment we try to capture in a photograph. My project is an ode to the beauty found decay, which is really the beauty that can be found in change and flux. Water and plastic are two powerful visual metaphors in this exploration, two substances that constantly change shape, yet stay the same—one natural and necessary for life; the other manmade and a fact of modern life. Both gesture towards the ephemeral and the eternal. Death hides in the shadows, in intimations of decay, but perhaps what is even more pernicious is the death that hides in the semblance of order, in the futile impulse to keep things the same.

I plan to pair my photographs with an audio recording. I’d like to read some poetry, perhaps my own, or perhaps a mixture of my own and T.S. Eliot’s, as I flip through my images on the projector. I may also try to introduce elements of soundscape to the recording – water running through sewers, waves lapping at the shore, wind blowing plastic bags.

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