Trash: The Book.

Trash is not really a book at all, but a little annual hardcover magazine called Alphabet City, edited by John Knechtel, and published in hardcover by MIT Press. What a gem, what an inspiring collection of great writing and images about, what else, trash. Who could imagine reconstructing Doctor Strangelove, scene by scene, entirely out of small bits of garbage? Artist Kristan Horton did; he took about 350 stills and made miniature recreations using mundane household objects like peanut butter jars, cigarette butts, cutlery and duct tape, and then displayed them beside the original. It is funny and brilliant- see it (if you can; his server is down a lot) at ::Kristan Horton

Then there is Bill Keaggy and his 50 sad chairs, with an intro by Gay Hawkins. You can see the chairs here, but also look at the rest of Keaggy's website, where I lost half a day cruising through old cameras, grocery lists and menus.

Follow that up with Lisa Rochon on garbage, Ed Burtynsky on waste in China, Karilee Fuglem's photographs of dust bunnies and Brian Jungen dissecting and reassembing consumer products in order to simulate more ancient forms, the above piece being Nike footwear and human hair.

Message in a Bottle is a fascinating article by Heather Rogers telling the history of how returnable bottles were supplanted by no deposit- no return bottles, to permit the centralizing of bottlers and brewers. (Did you know that the Keep America Beautiful campaign of the 70's was founded by the American Can Company, Owens-Illinois Glass, who invented the disposable bottle, along with more than 20 other companies who benefit from disposables? That the entire campaign was paid for by corporations shifting the responsibility for littering from the manufacturers who should be taking returns, to the public? Or that the crying indian, was in fact Italian? )

Bite sized bits of information presented incredibly well- This on my list of best books of the year. ::Trash Available at ::Ballenford Books and ::Amazon

From the Publisher:

Trash: the emptied out, the used up, the broken, the outgrown, the obsolete; the dispossessed, the lost, the left behind. In Trash, writers, artists, and filmmakers look at how we are defined by what we waste and discover that we are what we throw away. Trash surveys a terrain that ranges from micro (a typology of dust bunnies) to macro (studies of landfill design and the trashed space of urban brownfield sites). It investigates the logic of trash as it is applied to humans and looks at lives intimately dependent on trash, taking us from the abducted girls of Juarez to the recycling communities of China.

These excavations of trash include philosopher Barry Allen's tracing of the borderline where thought turns to trash, Susan Coolen's collection of paper airplanes found in the streets of Montreal, and the strange and obsessive project of artist Kristan Horton to recreate tableaux from the film Dr. Strangelove with bits of trash. Poet Priscilla Uppal writes about her Uncle Fernando, known to his neighbors in Brasilia as "Dr. Garbage" ("When they go to the movies/he goes through their garbage"), and Karilee Fuglem's photographs reveal the intricacy of household fluff. Rebecca Duclos and David Ross create an advertisement for a fictional museum that houses artifacts discarded by other museums, and Priya Sarukkai Chabria's cantos of "Refuse/Refused" give voice to an old woman in India discarded, like trash, by her family, a shard of a broken mirror ("My time will come when/yours is done"), and a worm in a "cathedral of rot."

Trash explores the ethics and psychology of trash and what these reveal about contemporary industrial society. The investigations range from the whimsical to the disturbing, and offers a variety of approaches to rehabilitating and rediscovering what is too commonly tossed aside.