“I spent 3 years diving into my compost and recycling bins and have been amazed at the richness of subjects I find there.”
“Waste”: from the Latin vastūs, vast, or vastitas, desolation. It’s a word that implies a loss of value, a loss of substance, a loss of integrity. Fortunately, there are artists like Denis Roussel who see through the façade of loss, who find new beauty in the wastes. Check out Roussel’s unique and innovative work at www.denis-roussel.com, and stop by LensCulture to see Roussel’s new “paper negatives” and “food waste” series (pics below)!
For several years, my compost and recycling bins were my muses. Whenever I felt the need to create a photograph, I would rummage through my family’s waste and pick specimens that caught my eye. Through my photographic processes, these remnants of daily life were reborn into remarkable images—a transformation that mirrors the one that occurs naturally through the composting and recycling processes: wasted food scraps become a valuable soil amendment; recycled items are resurrected into usable objects.
I had always wanted to work on an environmentally conscious project, but whenever I started thinking about the issues at hand, I became overwhelmed by the complexity of the problems. How could I explore pollution prevention or remediation, for example, without taking into account economic considerations, inequalities, population growth, consumption, agriculture, etc.? Everything seemed interconnected and I didn’t know where to start.
Then I realized I could focus on simple concrete actions like composting and recycling. They are easy to do, but can have a significant impact on climate change and provide a practical entryway into an environmentally-conscious life.