Tuesday, March 19, 2013

(IN)VISIBILITY at 45 Church Street

This installation spanned four stories inside the compluvium at Wellesley College's Lulu Chow Wang Campus Center this winter. After being dismantled the installation was re-imagined for the space at 45 Church Street in Wellesley Square.

Campus Center compluvium:


Eliana Blaine is a Senior at Wellesley College.  

Church Street exhibit made possible with the cooperation of property owner EDENS. 

This project’s inspiration and origins have a long history. While studying abroad last spring, I ended up looking at informal waste management and recycling procedures in Delhi, Dakar, and Buenos Aires. This focus brought my attention to the multiplicity of issues and opportunities relating to waste, and I thought a lot about the visibility and invisibility of waste streams and the people connected to processes relating to waste.

I became a little obsessed with waste. I kept thinking about waste, and about the people I had met. I thought a lot about value, and how people value materials and each other. I began exploring waste on campus, with a desire to connect art and the environment. I initially focused on creating art out of reclaimed materials. Through my investigation, I re-discovered dynamics of visibility and invisibility in the campus context.
For me, this project is a lot about making a component of the campus’ waste stream visible, and transforming materials that have an associated negative environmental impact to a form with a positive social influence. There are countless relationships between people, plastics, water, and waste; this project is but another iteration connecting between and among the four. There is a blurred and ever-shifting line between the “visible” and “invisible” dimensions of the relationships between people, plastics, water, and waste. “Visibility” and “invisibility” depends on who, what, when, where, why, and how – the context matters. I have thought about this project as an artistic endeavor and an intervention.
When we dispose of a bottle, in the recycling or in the trash, we lose sight of it. It goes “away.” I wanted to bring these materials “back,” engage with them a different way, and see what opportunities they afford.
What else have we lost sight of? What can this installation do to redirect our sight internally – to the processes that go on here on campus, and to our own behavior relating to material use? How can this project help us see a different possibility for the materials that we might otherwise lose touch with?
The materials used in the final installation are visible, but those that went into the making of the piece - the tools, the bottles that were sorted out, water for cleaning bottles, even people’s ideas and labor – remain mostly unknown, and to a large extent unrecognized. Working with the materials the way others and I did made new spaces visible, and the interactions we had with people helped make them more visible too.
This project has helped me to see differently; and I believe that this has already spread more broadly. Patrick Willoughby, Director of Sustainability, said that now he is seeing plastics in a whole new way. He mentioned that every time he sees something plastic, he thinks about how it could fit into this project. Willie Cole, the artist we collaborated with for the project, said “after working with you, I’m thinking a lot more about my own work as recycling.”
All aspects of the project’s process, from its conception, to its design, to collecting bottles, to physically building the installation, were done in collaboration with many others. I have found great value in working with others. I have found value in new ways of thinking about waste materials. I experienced a community build around and with the installation, and I value the connections and trust that I relied on throughout the project. For me, the project will retain a lasting value, even if its material components do not. 

Visible: What is seen in the final installation
Plastic water bottles
Plastic bags
Aluminum frame, bolts, wire
Fish net
Zip ties
Packing tape
Gutter foam
Climbing rope

Invisible: The unseen dimensions of the primary materials
Plastic water bottles
The bottles were reclaimed from campus, and a few from Wellesley Recycling and Disposal Facility. They were saved by staff, students, and faculty for this project, and most were scavenged from the collected from recycling containers and bins over a course of a month. Over 1,000 water bottles are used. Bottles are repurposed for, or “recycled” into this project.
Plastic bags
The bags used for the “fish” tails were made by reusing the plastic bags that the plastic bottles were collected in.
The wire lines that the bottles are strung on is used in the basement of the Campus Center by custodial and dining services staff to hold together bundles of cardboard boxes to be recycled.
Aluminum frame, bolts, wire
The materials for the main frame for the installation were used for an exhibit in the Davis Museum, and were repurposed and modified for this project.
Fish net  
Though purchased new, the fishing nets on the installation frame were originally recycled from old nets into a new product, and are advertized as “genuine recycled fishing nets.”

Though the following people helped the project along to different degrees, it would not have been possible without each one.
I want to highlight the help of:
W.E.E.D. Phyllis McGibbon Willie Cole Patrick Willoughby Lynne Payson  John Olmstead Wanwan Fei  Alden Griffith Alexis Hecht Amelia McClure Andrew Brennan Andrew Orloski Andy Mowbray Anne Yu Arbor Quist Ashley Funk Asiya Yakhina Ben Chapman Beth DeSombre Bindu Nicholson Carlos Dorrien Carly Gayle Cassidy Jemo Charlotte Pierce Cherie Tyger Corinne Frazer
Courtney Coile Dani Ezor Daniela Rivera Danielle Krcmar David Kelley Debra Carbarnes Delverna Hibbert Dervin Hibbert Elaine Mehalakes Elizabeth Krauthamer Ellen Bechtel Elsa Sebastian Em Gamber Emily Stidsen Emily Wilson Emma Kissane Erin Hinesley Faith Waugh
Field Griffith Gabby Waldman-Fried Gabriela Lanza Gordon Martin Hannah Mott Hayley  Capodilupo Hayley Jewett Idalmis Vaquero Irma Rodriguez Jack McCarthy Jackie Whalen Jay Turner Jeffrey Labrie Jen Gu Jennifer (Jen) Flint Jerry Amaral Jessica (Jess) Hunter Jesus Reyes
Ji Hyang Sunim Joe Law Julia O’Donnell Justin Doherty Kalyani Menon-Sen Kate Corcoran Katherine (Kate) Hunt Katherine Ruffin Kathy Long Kenneth Baxter Kevin Dwyer Kristina Jones
Laura Marin Lauryn Martin Libby McDonald Lisa Fischman Malcolm Hecht Manny Motto Maritza Webb Meg Jordan Meg McClure Mia Greene Michael (Mike) Wheeler Myles Dunigan Nazzarena DeMasi Nichole Burton Nikki Greene Pablo Rey Patricia (Pat) Berman Pete Zuraw R. Ely
Rebecca Leung Rebecca Spilecki Richard Howard Robert (Zach) Hurst Sadie Shelton Sam Burke
Sandra Poitras Sara Putterman Sarah Ertle Sophia Garcia Suzanne Howard Sydney Steward Taylor Bass Trina Learned Zoe Hecht & Committee on Lectures and Cultural Events (CLCE)
Student Organization Funding Committee (SOFC) Applied Arts Program Office of Sustainability
Art Department Environmental Studies Program Office of Religious and Spiritual Life Africana Studies Davis Museum Student Advisory Committee Facilities Management  Green Umbrella
Book Arts Lab Babson Fine Arts Association Wellesley Recycling and Disposal Facility AVI Fresh
Basurama D-Lab Waste and to the many others, I apologize for not keeping track of your names. Many heartfelt thanks.