Trash Archive – Self Portrait

Self Portrait


To showcase my trash and stance on human interaction with waste, I composed this photograph. Initially, the image seems dry and desolate. I intentionally chose an indistinct and commonplace location to shoot, allowing the viewer to relate to the instance and to analyze only what was occurring in the foreground. Trash is temporary and the actions of society can be changed. By blurring the trash pile, I highlight the short timeline of the presence of trash. This draws the focus to the litterer, instead, pointing out the root of the problem. I also decided to turn my back to the pile, symbolizing society’s accustomed reaction to the presence of trash: ignorance. Caught in the action of littering, I stare directly at the viewer. This causes an unsettling feeling to arise in the viewer, as if I am targeting them with my accusatory look, knowing of their ignorance to trash.


Upon reflection – and during the process – collecting my trash was strange. I’d go out for bubble tea with a friend and have to explain why I kept my cup and straw. I would make pasta then bring the cardboard box into my room. I felt like a hoarder. I was also somewhat baffled by the trash I created, mostly being bottles from purchased drinks. Along with my growing pile of trash in the corner of my room, I felt like I almost didn’t have enough. Whenever I ate food out, I was trapped. I had to throw a few items out simply because of the nature of keeping trash – I couldn’t hoard a box that had pad thai sauce on it, it just wasn’t sanitary. And so, I kept my collection of relatively clean trash, feeling like a cheater throughout the week.

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