A video triptych shot in 2008 with edit completed in 2010.
Environmental anxiety is rife. Green is the new color of choice for advertising. Nature, Inc. offers to save us from ourselves in a language where “sustainable” means holding onto the status quo, and the only route to salvation is through consumption. Observing this new cultural-economic trope, I decided to undertake some experiments with the aesthetics of green washing, beginning with an urban shrine of automated cleanliness—the laundromat—and progressing to the function of the cleaning machine itself.
The Long Distance Runner
I have long found it instructive that in our society we have invented a machine to fulfill the ritual function of purification for us. In using a machine to remove our dirt, we remove ourselves from an engagement with the history of our passage through the world—of the places where our boundaries meet the environment—and with what happens to the dirt once it is gone. In this sense, the washing machine functions in a manner not unlike that of the environmental guilt market: pay someone on the other side of the world to plant some trees, and the smog hanging in the air behind your daily commute will magically dematerialize. It maintains the illusion that we are discrete individuals—always separate and with the sanitizing power of money, always clean—and obviates the necessity for us to participate in the consequence of our material congress with the world.