I live in Bristol, Rhode Island, a small town 45 minutes away from RISD’s campus. While walking my dog or heading to the bus stop, I’ve noticed lots of litter scattered along the street—crumpled chip bags, Dunkin’ Donuts cups, and mini liquor bottles. Though there are many houses in Bristol, I see more trash than people. For whatever reason, I began documenting this garbage with my camera. I now have a sizable collection of photos of trash.
The labels I’m most drawn to—those filled with patriotic imagery, dancing devils, perfect apples, and sports teams—hint at American consumers’ escapist tendencies. The images and palettes suggest a desired reality, but look particularly solemn when flattened into two dimensions, weathered from passing traffic, and smudged into the pavement. Why is it that I find these degraded objects and images more intriguing than their intended forms and designs? Can they tell me anything about the people who consumed their contents and tossed them out? I don’t know, but I’m interested in the patterns emerging, and in learning more about what keeps me taking photos of them.