Discovering Art in the Abandoned and Eroding

Photos I've collected using piles of discarded items

These are photos of items that people don't obtain an inspiration for being a subject of art: prisons, piles of trash, junked cars, abandoned houses, oily asphalt, etc.

Now, I'm not trying to make any kind of a social statement, however art can be discovered in items that may not intrinsically be thought of as beautiful. The secret is to look beyond our predetermined ideas and predisposition about what beautiful is and look for the artistic potential of things the majority of people may perceive as unattractive.

In the old days of film (long before Photoshop existed) people used to wish there was some type of magical filter that could be attached to the front of a lens that would cause power and phone lines to be invisible. There are numerous times those lines get right in the path of an otherwise idyllic composition. Like an poorly situated billboard, they can destroy a subject's splendor. Yet with an appropriate backdrop and with the right illumination, a power line web can turn into a powerful addition to a scene.

Abandoned Hopes and Dreams

Most of the time we give little thought to what's under foot. What we walk on or step over is seldom worth our consideration. At the most, a broken up sidewalk would typically prompt be a phone call to the city's maintenance department to be repaired. However when combined with a late afternoon's long shadows from the sun, those concrete cracks can be transformed into an artistic composition.

Bugs and Beatles

Prisons aren't typically thought as an art inspiration. although San Quentin Prison, built in 1854 is the oldest prison in California, and it's tall concrete walls appears to be weathered by over a 150 years of rain, sun and sea air. However it's exactly that aged and faded appearance that provides the fortification of the prison a unique texture and makes them worthwhile viewing through an artist's point of view.

San Quentin

Most people almost certainly wouldn't pay a second glance to a pile of discarded chairs but with the right circumstances, old broken lawn chairs can turn into a huge dragon. Patio furniture most often receives a lot of misuse. When left out in the elements over extended time periods, even the plastic resin chairs will fade out and become brittle, while metal chairs can rust.

Chair Dragon

Unless a car parked in a stall is something such as an Aston Martin or a Ferrari, it probably won't acquire much notice by most passer by's. While the ground underneath those cars would scarcely be given a thought. Although gasoline and oil may leak in varying degrees, and leaving a stain on the pavement, a day with rain can offer an interesting setting. Standing rain drops will forma a bead and separate from the oil, making miniature lakes. A rather thin oily film that floats on the facade of every droplet causes a reflective color rainbow. Not all that good on the environment, although time they become a haunting beauty in their own right.

Oil and Water on Asphault


Trash Mountain

The scenes of eroding and abandonment can become as appealing as more traditionally aesthetic scenes. It just takes a perception modification to enjoy their beauty.

New Article Oct 6, 2011

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