Digital inkjet prints 204 x 120 cm, or Type C prints, 81.3 x 50.8 cm.
A plastic soft drink container discarded somewhere in metropolitan Melbourne in the late 1970s turns up 20 years later on the banks of the River Yarra. Who sucked on it? Where was it thrown away? Where has it been hiding all this time? How many tides has it bopped in?
If only I could read the soft hieroglyphics on the plastic. Instead I can only imagine: the patina of the journey; the gouging of time; the rubbing of tides; the action of sunlight; the accumulation of grit. The high resolution, direct from object, digital scans, more than photographs, pick it all up.
All the soft drink containers in this series were collected between 1990 and 2003 underneath where the Westgate Bridge spans the Yarra in the Port of Melbourne. The containers range in height from about 11 cm to 24 cm and, when full, held anywhere from 150 to 250 ml of “lolly water” (cordial).
Today, in amongst the flotsam and jetsam, I pick up a plastic container with the words “SKY DIVER 4.5 FL OZ” embossed on its front. At other times I have picked up the same shape container. It said “SKY DIVER 130 ml”.
Although metric weights and measures were introduced into Australia in the mid 1970s, it is not unusual for me to still pick up containers marked in fluid ounces. That’s the only way I know these objects have been floating around for such a long time.
I have amassed dozens of some shapes, and only one sample of others. I have a box full of hand grenades and I left behind even more. Yet I have only ever found one hand gun.
Fred was pretty popular and so was Sky Diver. But Koala and Rabbit are one offs.
At times I have not found anything new for months. And then, as if by magic, something new appears at my feet. I smile.
The drought hasn’t been good for this type of urban archaeology. It has been a very, very lean 12 months. There is always more rubbish flushed out after heavy rains. And after the rain is always a good time to go hunting for good quality rubbish from the streets of Melbourne. I am praying for rain.
MC, May 2003