The title of this installation is taken directly from the T.S. Eliot poem of the same name. Published in 1922, Eliot’s poem explores the corruption of life’s meaning and purpose due to modernization. It is a complex and beautiful account of utter disillusionment that I identify with deeply, and the study of which has in no small part influenced the direction of my current research. The Waste Land is what civilization has created; it is the sum of everything we have worked towards. This body of work approaches the idea of a waste land from a different direction than Eliot’s poem. Where Eliot focuses on the aimless and confused inner landscapes of individuals, I manifest the empty and desolate physical aftermath of a lost culture. This is my reaction to the search for meaning, and the disillusionment that comes from the struggle to find it within contemporary society.
Each of these objects is a part of a set and definite narrative. Each machine had a purpose once, and within this narrative they form a partial view of another world: a time and place disconnected from what we think of as reality. The specifics of this narrative are not meant to be clear, but it is my hope that their presence in my decision-making process will lend an air of cohesion to the work, allowing the viewer to make connections between the objects, and prompting them to ask questions. The encroaching vines, breaking down the structure of this civilization, are an integral part of the underlying narrative. Though once put to purpose by those who inhabited this place, they now serve their own purposes.
Shown here is a world that has moved on; a reality in which the sun has set on civilization, as it inevitably will on all things. However long it takes, there will come a day when not even the faintest remnant of everything that we have ever accomplished will remain. There may be no divine plan, and maybe nothing waiting at the end of the path, but this does not increase the emptiness. On the contrary, I see such beauty in that idea: in the certainty of our end, and the infinite possibilities that it implies. Out of all the vastness of the universe, by some combination of random chance and dumb luck, we have the ability to consider ourselves; the capacity for introspection, creativity, and curiosity. More than anything, this work is meant to emphasize our transience, our utter impermanence, and the sublime wonder that accompanies such an existence.
“Behold the stairways which stand in darkness; behold the rooms of ruin.
These are the halls of the dead where the spiders spin and the great circuits fall quiet, one by one.”
-excerpt from The Waste Lands
by Stephen King, 1991
“I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”
-excerpt from “The Waste Land”
by T.S. Eliot, 1922