Sunday, September 03, 2017

Art at SSW #3 - 'Legacy'

... a proposal for a public arts project
continuing my consideration of object as cultural history.

 Archaeology is the study of 'what is left behind - which still remains'. Trash is often the source material (and often the most illuminating).

While at Lumsden, I undertook a number of walks around the local area. Several of these were in part along the main access road that runs through the centre of Lumsden, from Rhynie (to 'north') or Alford (to 'south').
There is surprisingly less trash along the sides of the roads generally in rural Scotland, in comparison to along the back dirt roads around my own home in Wareham for example. I'd put part of this down to the fact almost all cars in Scotland are standard transmission - and the roads are both narrow and twisty, requiring frequent shifting of gears. So drivers rarely can have a coffee or drink to hand, I was told that actually this was not legally allowed (?).
I did notice, walking along route A97, was that what trash there was, most commonly was aluminum beer cans. (This may also be because, unlike in Ontario, there is no deposit / return system in place.) Perhaps not surprisingly, the most commonly recovered cans were from the cheapest brands - Tennent's primarily. (Draw your own conclusions there!)

Aluminum is extremely durable in the environment, with a 'decomposition life' measured in centuries (1).
Here in Canada, plastic beverage containers often outnumber aluminum cans found along the roadside. 

So what is it we will leave behind?

'Legacy' project proposal - at SSW : August 2017

'Legacy' is a proposal which would combine a number of elements.

- The structure is a simple pyramid shaped framework, measuring 4 x 4 feet at the base and standing about 6 feet tall. (2) This framework would be made up of structural angle on the outside edges, with a series of cross bars welded in place horizontally at about 6 inch spacing.
- Along the cross bars, set to about 4 inch spacing, would be welded a series of simple nails. The ideal would 1 1/2 long roofing nails, both in terms of ease of welding attachment (large heads) and short shafts for safety.
- Pushed on to the nails would be aluminum beverage cans and plastic drink bottles, collected as road side trash. On initial installation, only some of the attachment points would be covered with cans.
- A separate sign board would explain the concept and participation aspects of the project.

• The pyramid form references the Great Pyramids of Egypt. At roughly 4500 years old, these are some of the best known ancient human structures. (3)

• First level of public participation is continuing to 'build' the structure. Individuals will be encouraged, via the sign board to add additional trash cans and bottles to the remaining nail pegs. This would be accomplished by simply pushing objects on to the short points.

• A secondary benefit would be the continuing trash clean up of the area around the installation site - hopefully even beyond.

• It is hoped that the overall impact of the sculpture would be to raise awareness of both the problem of trash generation, and it's long term accumulation within the enviroment.

(1) Metallic aluminum, exposed to air in the natural environment, 'quickly' forms a dull, light coloured oxide film on its surface. This oxide is itself quite resilient to further corrosion, and harder than the metal underneath it. One estimate for the time it takes a standard aluminum beverage can to decompose is 200 - 500 years.

Plastic drink bottles have an estimated decomposition rate of roughly 450 years. (see same source).

(2) Because of the inherent stability of the shape, there would be no special mountings required. (The simplest support would be via four standard concrete 'deck blocks', set on the ground and roughly leveled.)

(3) Sourcing Wikipedia, Barnenez in France (a passage grave) is listed as the oldest human 'structure' (at 6850 years)

Artist Note : There may be a possibility to work this proposal into a format which would allow it to be submitted for the 2018 Elora Sculpture Project
I have had work chosen 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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