For Lost and Found, the photographer Will Ellis photographs objects collected from the deserted buildings, parks, and bays of New York City. Dating back to the first half of the 20th century, each recovered object is shot with the utmost care, regardless of condition or value. The artist’s long journeys in search of his discarded relics— traversing less frequented city spots with haunting names like Dead Horse Bay and North Brother Island— give historical and totemic meanings to each possession. Once relevant only to a forgotten child, a plastic toy shoe from the 1920s is studied under lights, archived by a seemingly objective lens, and repurposed as evidence of some imagined urban ancestry.
Ellis’s choice to incorporate animal bones into a few of the images strengthens the work’s genealogical impulse; a set of hospital keys, ripped from their locks and rusted beyond recognition, stands alongside a raccoon bone separated from its socket in time. Similarly, a horse bone from the city’s industrial age is visually equated with a pair of plastic doll arms; shot from the same angle, the eroded bone and muddied plastic occupy similar portions of the frame, each lit with expert precision.
As if part of a museum catalog, the series of 30 photographs provides a cohesive, if subjective, vision of history. Through the eyes of Lost and Found, the city’s children narrate its evolution, telling a visual story that begins with doll, touches on music book, and culminates in senior portrait. Ellis’s choice of a stark white backdrop and harsh lighting brilliantly avoids potential sentimentality; as the artist invites us into a distinctly nostalgic space, we are instructed to view the work with the utmost seriousness. Take a look. (via Feature Shoot)
Jane Perkins reproduces classic paintings using found plastic objects like buttons, beads, jewelry, shells, toy figures, LEGOs, and other plastic items. With her careful and meticulous arrangements, she faithfully recalls well-known works, enhancing the texture of them and creating interesting depth. She implements each item’s original color and shape skillfully into the compositions, illustrating shades and lines with the outlines of the objects. From afar, her pieces could pass for prints of these famous works, but up close, the viewer is granted another layer of appreciation for them. Perkins applies her background in textile design to her plastic found object arrangements, artfully utilizing the textures of each object. (via my modern met)
Inspired by her Oakland surroundings and the mysterious life of collected objects (from homeless shopping carts to a public disposal & recycling area), Amy Wilson Faville collages her own drawings in with an assortment of vibrant materials such as old mattress fabric, file folders, vintage wallpaper, and other scraps. Comparable to quilt-making, Faville’s compositions incorporate consistent patterns with eclectic pops of color, conceptually mirroring her subject matter.
Speaking on her Carts series specifically, Faville states, “My goal was to use the power of beauty to transform images of squalor into splendor.”
Stuart Haygarth constructs beautiful sculptures out of recycled and found materials. He typically finds large quantities of one object, like eyeglasses, plastic bottles, eyeglass arms, mirrors, or picture frames, and builds large chandeliers or other functional installation sculpture work. Some of his work that is composed of seemingly random objects has been arranged to highlight the myriad of colors and forms that encompass his sculptures. Haygarth’s ability to recontextualize the mundane into the magical is uncanny. In an interview with Design Museum he says, ”I think there is a certain ‘power’ in a collection of specific objects. A large grouping of a carefully chosen object – be it by colour or form – gives the object new meaning and significance.”
From Futura Standard to Helvetica Neue, designer Aleksi Hautamaki refits vintage neon letters, previously destined for the bin, with a touch of LED lighting to resuscitate their glow for another 10 years.
Character, his company, sells each piece to the public, intending to cultivate a “second life cycle” capable of creating “new value for everybody involved.”
Likewise, portrayed here in a series of artful photographs, each previously abandoned bit of font now haunts the city, with a fresh sense of freedom, searching for a new artful context, home, or environment outside its previous life in advertising.
We’ve posted David Maisel’s work before. His aerial photographs of open mines depict the colorful transformation of polluted areas. His new project, Library of Dust, catalogues individual copper canisters containing the unclaimed remains of patients from the Oregon State Insane Asylum who died sometime between 1883 and the 1970s. Each canister’s chemical decay is uniquely colorful; the aesthetic resonates with transformation indicated in his aerial photography. “Among my concerns with Library of Dust are the crises of representation that derive from attempts to index or archive the evidence of trauma; the uncanny ability of objects to portray such trauma; and the revelatory possibilities inherent in images of such traumatic disturbances. While there are certainly physical and chemical explanations for the ways these canisters have transformed over time, the canisters also encourage us to consider what happens to our own bodies when we die, and to the souls that occupy them.”
Louise O’Rourke’s photographs document not just the idea of rejected beds as a form of waste, but more so, the repetition of intimate objects made sadly public with age, which moves her work into a particularly lonesome study of humanity’s careless romance with things.
From Toy Story to the Velveteen Rabbit, children’s literature seems to capitalize on a similar theme that O’Rourke tugs at here: because our beloved objects don’t age gracefully– or even at all– they get thrown away and easily replaced. We don’t even need to see the newer model to know that it is there. It is always there: lingering. Waiting. The job of an object is to selfishly service us until we are done with it. These are the rules. In this sense, objects can never win. Caught in limbo, O’Rourke’s wayfarer beds transition onto the street, heart exposed, welcoming vagrants or rodents. A sad Dickens’ death. It is not a story of waste, but love. Wherever the new bed is, the old bed is not, and will never be again.
However, there is a sign of hope. O’Rourke also notes the value of reinventing old finds such as discarded photographs, of which she peels at the emulsion, saving the scraps, to create a new context and authorship of the image, one that is more ephemeral or abstract.
She states, “By removing the emulsion, I further remove the photograph from the event and even claim the moments that stand out to me. By physically altering the found image with no negative to reprint from, I create my own narrative from those previously captured stories.”
Perhaps, through art, there is life after love for objects.