Rubbish and DIY would seem to be
closley related, as attempts at the latter often produce more of
But in my world, things are the
other way round: skips (US: dumpsters) are a source of domestic
improvements. This page provides a few examples, from the fancy
light fixtures to the scavenger's garden.
Skips are a source of raw
materials and finished products ranging from lumber to electronic
goods and the proverbial kitchen sink. I've been astounded
more than once by the value or utility of things I've found on
skips. Then again, some of the stuff I've seen should have been
discarded long ago, and one wonders why it wasn't.
However, most of what I retrieve
falls somewhere between these two extremes. This includes the
Asahi Pentax K1000 with a 135mm lens and a dysfunctional light
meter; the two-part aluminum ladder with a broken latch; the
24-inch fly-mo with a broken handle; the turntable missing a
drive belt. But some of it is in good or
top condition: the hard chairs; the old office furniture;
the solid wood cabinets; the power shower and
kitchen appliances; the stack of metal picture frames with
glass intact; the fully functional Fujica ST605 with 35mm and
50mm lenses; the assortment of computer chassis, monitors,
printers, scanners, network devices and other hardware. Some of
this is tossed out one bit at a time, and some of it is the result
of office relocations, renovations, or system upgrades.
But this page is about
transformations from rubbish to objects of aesthetic value.
Retro Flat-Pack Technology
If it's not in a museum, and
it's not art, it must be waste.
Lefebvre writes about waste as the necessary expenditure of
energy; energy that explodes inwardly or outwardly; energy that
must be spent. This energy always does work, the work of excess,
the creation of more than necessary, the production of redundancy.
This energy is more or less durable. Some of it gets consumed and
re-released or spent almost immediately, as plant growth on
derelict sites, for example. Other bits hang around, are slower to
release their bound-up capacity. These things decay slowly, and can
have extended relict states.
It's a container of sorts. It's
a box that's not a box. It's an energy matrix. It's a retro
technology made from bona fide stuff I found. I pulled up the
carpet in the bathroom, and underneath the carpet was a linoleum
floor. Isohedrons of variously colored tile were assembled
precisely and adhered to a jute or sisal mat. It must have been
made in the days before the foam-backed plastic that now comes in
giant rolls. It may even have been hand-assembled. It's an
obsolete product made with obsolete technology. It's durable
Hand assembly is the aesthetic
here. Minimal work, mechanically simple. I could have duct-taped
the joints together, but liked the idea of binding the edges,
keeping it simple, keeping the materials exposed. While looking
around for wire, string, zip ties, thread, I spotted a bunch of
rubber bands that I had collected off the sidewalk, where they'd
been dropped by a mail carrier. I liked the idea of using two
plasticky products, latex and rubber (or something like that), and
the idea of a stretchy, flexible shape. Something that might even
be a retro flat-pack product.
It's a container for obsolete
technology. It's a diskette holder. You can fill it with junk. It
comes with free internal dividers. You can repair it if the rubber
bands break. You can flat-pack it for shipping. You can throw it
away, give it away, turn it into something else. You can let the
mice move in. It's a birdhouse. It's a boat.
It's a distorted image of the