Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Postcards from a Junkyard

Junkyard Dogs 2I should first clearly state that junkyards are not to be confused with garbage dumps. Garbage dumps, which are also called tips, landfills, or rubbish dumps, are the final resting places of our daily waste. They came about after we congregated into communities and figured out we needed a common place to toss the things we no longer had a use for.

Junkyards, on the other hand, arose with the advent of the automobile. When we started driving, we started needing cheap parts as the machines wore or became damaged. What is a cheaper source of parts than other vehicles that can no longer function?

Junkyards are also a source of great imagery, as I discovered at a Freeman Patterson / Andre Gallant workshop many years ago. Andre had purchased some old clunkers and had them towed to a nearby field to be used as target practice. I still remember the first assignment: photograph the texture of the rust on the cars!

I never thought any more about Andre's old cars until many years later when a co-worker paid me a back-handed compliment. She said I could "take a picture of garbage and make it look nice". Her commendation gave me the idea to challenge myself to spend some serious time at a junkyard and see what I could see.

I do not know who the inventor of the junkyard is; there was probably more than one person. I suspect that there were a number of enterprising individuals who saw the business opportunity in collecting old cars and trucks and selling off the usable parts before selling the remaining carcass to be melted down and used again.

Junkyard Dogs 4

Junkyards enjoy cult status. There have even been television shows such as Scrapheap Challenge and Junkyard Wars, where the junkyard is central to the theme of the show.

Indeed, the value of the junkyard is high enough that owners of junkyards often employ guard dogs to protect their investment. These dogs have a reputation for being very mean-spirited, but I suspect their bark is worse than their bite. Behind that gruff exterior of the junkyard dog is a puppy just waiting to have its belly rubbed.

Junkyard Dogs 5

I think that the cars and trucks that inhabit the junkyard are the true “junkyard dogs”. Their surfaces, once shiny and smooth, are now textured with rust. Holes puncture their bodies, like some ancient body piercing ritual gone awry. Straight lines are now curved, curved lines are now crooked. All of this gives them a very gruff, mean look.

Junkyard Dogs 3

However, despite this entropic decay, there are bits and pieces of their former glory that peek through this “mean fa├žade” for you to see. There are wonderful geometries, offsets, and textures. These "dogs" really do put you to the test to discover beauty where it lies.

Junkyard Dogs 2

I was quite happy with my time spent amongst these old warriors. So much so that I packaged together a number of the images into a folio. To see the entire folio, go here. If you would like to purchase a copy of the folio, go here.

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