Readymades Emotional Object Story by Dominic Barrett
It had been a long journey. A long life, really. There was plenty of time ahead, but there was no getting around the “before” and “after” that so clearly marked this plastic bag’s existence. Before the ocean and after.
Plastic bag didn’t remember much of being born or it’s earliest days. Who does, really? But the first memory of being pulled and fully exposed to bright light and bare air would always stick with the plastic bag. Previously stacked nearly two dimensionally flat against its brethren, it hadn’t been used to the world or much of its three dimensions. And all of a sudden, hands, weight, swinging, knocking. It had held some cans, vegetables, snacks and a receipt. It was one of the few bags that had more than one use. It had been repurposed to transport left overs before being thrown into the trash. In its first trash home, it shared some time next to those left overs. There were some other bags, scraps of food, napkins, twist ties, rubber bands and coffee stir-ers.
It’s life space had collapsed again, however not in the orderly 2d dimensional sheets of its earlier life. It was now cramped in three dimensions. And it was also handled, but not the same way. A bag within a bigger bag, in a pile of bigger bags. Moved in a bin, a box, a truck, a ship. Motion was vague, detectable but far off. Muted tones and slight jostles marked legs of the journey that the bag could not see.
Too many times to count. And it didn’t matter, really. Most of it was simply dark and small. The bag didn’t mind. There was something to like about certain spaces, certain trash friends that would come and go.
But then there was the ocean. There was brightness and darkness. A free floating three dimensions but the reassuring pressure of the water surrounding it. And the fellow bags. The tides, their weight, the complicated liquid dynamics, all conspired to bring the bags together. Physics itself almost seemed to bend to make sure that the flock of bags would be together, slowly and luxuriously swimming in the middle of a vast ocean.
“Do you remember the hands?” they would ask each other, reminiscing. Sometimes they would twist into each other and play games. Other times they would simply be silent, and sway with the undulating current. But they were never mad or sad. They enjoyed sharing the memories as much as sharing the present. And when, occasionally, a bag or two peeled off from the pack, they were always happy and would wish each other good travels. “Goodbye! Thank you for everything! Tell them all about us here in the ocean!” they would yell as the departing bags approached the horizon.
There was before the ocean and after the ocean. Plastic bag liked the ocean very, very much.
For my assignment I want to attempt a “serene plastic bag”, (and yes, attempt to avoid the “American Beauty”-ization of the piece) with audio and visual elements that are calming. A collection of plastic bags, lit by blue light and slowly moving. The slow movements crinkle the bag, hopefully creating an ocean-like white noise.
The natural observation here is to recognize ecological damage posed by plastic bags in the ocean. I don’t want to confront this head on. In attempting to sanitize the aesthetics, I hope to create something that could be appealing on its own without any interpretation, but then can slowly reveal a grim reality upon noticing the details. Additionally, by creating a “fake” ocean, these bags avoid going into the actual ocean. Their (potential) beauty can serve an ecological purpose.