Plastic Pollution
December 20 2011

Flotsam Clusters - Nothing New

by Bill Hickman

Check out this rad artwork!  I'm usually hesitant to glorify trash and marine debris but I love this work from Lowell Nickel and wanted to pass it along.  Plastic trash and litter is easily ignored by most people but these works highlight how durable and everlasting it can be.  Next time you pass some plastic litter on the beach or sidewalk, pick it up.  It belongs in a recycle bin or trash can.

Here's info from the artist: "Flotsam Clusters~ “Nothing New” ~ Project statement for Digitally prepared found objects in print form ~ 2005->2011 ~ Lowell Nickel
Nearly seven years ago I started collecting and photographing flotsam and jetsam from are Southern California beaches. As I began photographing these objects in clusters, initially small groups as photomontage, these “trashy” compositions, like the flotsam, expanded. I continued toying with these beached found objects in Photoshop. Assembling, structuring and composing I watch this theme evolve with a playful sense of irony. All that weather junk became re-presented as worthy subject matter having (but are not limited to) properties of some elegance… all more then attractive or even decorative deliberations of rubbish. Most often, these formal clusters are flowing within an atmospheric darkness suggesting a transitional or ephemeral contact. The vision quest with these cluster compositions is to find a kind of lyrical renewal... a “beautiful” documentation for our own decomposing beach stuff.

A lifetime of beach combing initially influenced the conceptual base for this project. I cut my teeth on the beaches where the LA ”sewer meets the sea” Playa Del Rey, CA.  As I have logged decades of surfing, combing and musing on the worlds beaches a real life narrative came along to support my odd even obsessive art making practice. The public recognition of the North Pacific Gyre, also know as “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” may have given new readings of my idealized digital compositions. These compositions are now recordings of great stormy seas of flotsam & jetsam. I believe providing this context is not necessary. Displaying this distressed, decomposing stuff, as art has become a strategy that I hope will slyly seduce viewers, with or with out a narrative. For me this Art works. It serves as visual marker, a reminder of a wayward materialistic world.

It is easy to recognize that the forces of nature are functioning as the ultimate liberator of all manmade materials (even plastic Zories will die at sea) but this “liberation” is not without consequence.  I hope to exhibit this recent series of digitally manipulated prints and have them be accompanied with the prepared installation of  (plastic Vac-U-Sealed) flotsam. These prepared plastic “art-vac-pac’s” will be installed as real life specimens labeled “archival” whatever that means.

There’s nothing new here… it is all just repackaged and recycled. This installation artwork should challenge the viewer to consider tracking ones own steps (see “Foot-ware flotsam”) relative to personal by-products and material waste."