It starts when we’re born. Accessories. “My daddy is the best” and “My mom is better than your mom” on our shirts, iconic pacifiers, hair bows in more styles and colors than Baskin Robbins has flavors, complete ensembles of coordinated clothing, all in large quantities. When did babies become fashion statements? Aren’t they cute enough already? I see a lot of people talking to parents with small babies and hearing more compliments about the clothing than the kid wearing them.
It continues through adolescence, expanding to toys and games. I have boys (thank you God) that don’t care much about fashion and will probably need future therapy for their lack of stylish clothing options. They do however have accessories. They have Nintendo DS’s that have lots of games, a universal charger, a fancy light sabre stylus and headphones, all packed inside a custom case. Society says, “You need more” and we respond by buying more.
Into adulthood now, and I’m not exempt from this. I might not have a lot of fancy, trendy clothing but I do have some nice things in my house. Most from eBay, craigslist and thrift stores, but nevertheless, lots of things. Accessories. I have decorative things that serve no purpose other than to sit there and look nice. Now I’m an artist of sorts, so this is an important topic. I love to create things, but with a purpose. Much of my art is chaotic, but has meaning and purpose behind it. The vase sitting on my shelf, not so much. I’ve been sucked into the American vortex of more is better. I created this photograph several years ago. This has many meaning for many people, but I see it as how we become background fixtures in the sea of stuff we own.
Just to make things fun and chaotic, I’ll make this post from 2 non-sequential days.
I visited this awesome little used bookstore. I would have photos to show, had I remembered to put the memory card in my camera. Luckily I didn’t take too many photos before I discovered my critical error. The bookstore caught my eye, as I couldn’t miss an old house and a porch filled with books. We stopped since they sell used books and that’s allowed. All of the books on the porch were $0.25 each, and if you’re one of those ‘after hours’ shoppers, you can just take your books and leave your money in the box. I found 3 books outside, but the great treasure was waiting for me inside the store.
After browsing for a while, I found a section in the corner called ‘interesting stuff’. There were 2 shelves of interesting stuff, so I knew I would have to stop and read all of the titles. And there it was. A copy of Peter Blake’s God’s Own Junkyard: The Planned Deterioration of America’s Landscape. Now honestly, I’ve never heard of this book before, but I loved the title. The book is missing the dust jacket, but is in good condition otherwise. The price? $1.00. Yep, that fits in my budget AND it’s used. I found some copies of this book on amazon.com, 8 copies starting at $9.98 and one collector copy for $61.00.
This book was published in 1964, one of 17 books published by Peter Blake who was not only an author, but an architect as well. He passed away in 2006 at the age of 86. I haven’t read the book yet, but I’m starting it as soon as I finish this blog post. It seems to me that he was born before his time, giving us an early warning of our American culture of carelessness and waste.
I bought this book with the intention of making an altered book, using modern day photos related to his old photos, showing the progression of progress. I watched The Book of Eli the other night and I really can’t help but wonder how close we are to that world being a reality. The one thing that stuck in my head was Eli saying, “…people carelessly wasted things that we kill for today.” I have mixed feelings about making this book into an art project. Maybe I need to make God’s Own Junkyard 2: The Continued Deterioration of America’s Landscape.
Off to read…
I was near the bookstore again, with my camera and a memory card this time… Here’s a photo of the bookstore.