Finding pleasure in contemplating decay is perverse, according to Christopher Woodward’s In Ruins. But pleasure there seems to be, hence the queues at palaces, temples and castles around the world. Are we subconsciously facing up to our own inevitable demise, acknowledging that humankind’s achievements on earth are transient? Perhaps.
Yet, while we may deplore the destruction, the results, the crumbling ruins and abandoned towers, often have an elegiacs beauty or exert a macabre fascination or both. Remains, fragments and traces of all kinds may have this quality, something I’ve tried to show in earlier posts, like Fish (171116), Graffiti (180606) and Talking Pictures (180726). Irving Penn’s photographs of cigarette butts and Aaron Siskind’s abstract expressionist pictures of peeling paint have revealed other metaphors of transience.
Drinks cans, cast aside and rolled over by traffic to end up in the gutter, have now caught my eye. Shining regalia of metal and paint, they have become unique sculptural and tactile objects, modern archaeological records of an outdoor drinking culture and a world of casual disposal. There’s temptation to classify by colour, size and brand, but that would be too much like Lance in The Detectorists dating ring pulls.