I felt an immediate joy at the aesthetics of this series-- the bright punchy colors of the cups contrasting against the green felt simultaneously critical and humorous. The use of many images worked to create an exciting visual out of ordinary objects. I was left imagining nights of debauchery and their toxic-after-affects.
Would the river be this brown without deforestation and mining? Is the subject standing in this water?
Any time I encounter a story about massive unfinished boondoggles like this, I think about parallel moments of what could be called "edging." One example is the construction of Disney Hall in Los Angeles, which went on for about ten years before running out of money. All they got done was the underground parking lot, a $100m endeavor. By this point in time, two of the project's original three sponsors had died, Disney's widow and one of his daughters. As far as they are concerned, seeing as they no longer exist, all the money they gave the L.A. Phil went toward a parking lot. I'm curious how Speer, who survived the war, later thought about the never-built projects he planned and started. There's something a little elegaical in that feeling, one which gives me no small unease, guilt, nausea...Why do I now slightly wish I could see this arch the Nazis would have had to have won the war in order to complete? Places where this kind of fascist architecture have come closer to completion include the Statue of Unity, now the world's largest statue but sitting in a part of Gujarat that is in the middle of no where, and just completed by Modi's Hindu Nationalist government. Perhaps closer to Speer's experience is Tommy Suharto, son of the former Indonesian dictator, whose Kuta Selatan resorts in southern Bali are mainly unfinished and rapidly rotting away.
As I address in my annotation on the third image in this essay, I was really struck by the scrap metal, the vegetation on the near side riverbank, and the muddy bayou. Scrap, scrub, mud: dis-orders of industry, life, and earth.
My initial reaction is to conflate dis-order and disorder -- that is, to take this environment as pathological, and the environments captured in the other two photos as normative expressions of the prevailing social and economic order in Houston-Galveston.
As a second-order reaction to this immediate impression, I wonder whether, thinking with e.g. Anna Tsing, one can develop an ethnographic standpoint that pushes back against the progressive/declinist logic of industrial utopia/post-industrial devastation. The challenge is: can you develop a standpoint in which this image doesn't immediately fall into relation with the other two images in this essay in the manner of my initial impression, but instead resists that hierarchy of order/disorder and creates conceptual room for the ethnographer to discover other relations that may exist within and among these spaces?
Visceral. The context of the image has a lot of dark connotations which I experience immediately before properly taking it in.
I am viscerally drawn to stare at the pile of needles.
The pile of needles drew me to the center of the photo, to the mess of needles. It was visceral.
This image immediately made me smile. It's subversive. It's optimistic. I found it delightful.
The image is uncomfortable. It immediately strikes me as a danger. Even though, upon further inspection, I can see the orange plastic covers on the tips of the needles, indicating a barrier and a level of safety, I have been socialized to think of needles, not only as a source of discomfort (receiving a shot), but also as a potentially life-threatening danger.
My immediate impression of this image was first I felt very sorry for these brown babies who were left alone and suffered from starvation after wars. Also, it is very shameful and irresponsible that the Korean government did not properly include mixed-race children as our own citizens and enlarge the boundaries of nationality, but rather ostracized them.