Whenever I've picked up a potato chip bag from a beach, a plastic bag blowing across the dog park in my town, or a plastic water bottle from the street in front of my home (I pick up trash a lot!), I've thought about who, ultimately, should be responsible for the single-use containers that wash into our lives in a seemingly unending tide.
Environmental artist Asher Jay seems to have had this same question in mind, and her answer can be found in Garbagea, an online parody art project that, "...took the initiative to found an empire that would take responsibility for all the post consumer trash in this world."
This empire is called the United Flotsam of Garbagea, and is decribed as a new nation that, "...creates a safe and sublime sanctuary for abandoned, forlorn, wet, soiled, distressed and bi-polar (circulating in gyres between the poles) rubbish, because no one else has cared enough to address their pariah plight."
Included in this fictional world are a discussion of the history, population, culture, commerce and economy, and even a seal, crest and flag. It's like a tongue-in-cheek Wikipedia page for a world of trash. The offline aspect of this project featured a number of artworks created from garbage like that found in the Great Ocean Garbage Gyres, which were featured at the Hudson Terrace in NYC as part of an exhibition there.
So why did Asher Jay choose a funny, satirical way to explore this issue? According to her artist's statement, “Sylvia Earle often says ‘one has to know in order to care’ so it’s obviously very important how we relay information, the manner in which content is presented and communicated is as significant as the content itself. We live in a digital world with rapid data sharing, and in order to effectively disseminate truth one has to direct the flow of knowledge through the popular conduits. The audiences of the 21st century are over stimulated and possess the attention spans of fruit flies; they are constantly seeking out novelty and spectacles to be amused by, and Garbagea exploits all these contemporary patterns of assimilation and expurgation to underscore its main message “Waste not, want less, take stock, then express.”