I very much appreciate the number of image makers who are looking at what we consume with a unique perspective, and in turn, make us reexamine what we are spending our money on. Last year I featured the work of Rachel Perry Welty, and recently discovered the wonderful humorous and visually exciting photographs of David Welch. His on-going project, Material World, began as his MFA thesis at the Savannah College of Art and Design where it was on exhibition in May. Recently his work was presented on 20×200 with a terrific image offered up for sale.
David is based on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massechusetts and in addition to his MFA achievement, he has a one-year-old daughter whose own consumption will undoubtedly provide David with more reflection and inspiration.
Material World takes influence from the Marxist concept Objectification. This concept marks a transformative relationship between humankind and nature where individuals manifests their activities into materially existing forms. These forms serve as mirrors for self-understanding through contemplation and reflection, progressive steps towards our enhanced capacity as human beings.
A rupture in this process occurs within our contemporary society, as many individuals do not own the means of their own objectification potential. The means of production—the private ownership of tools and resources—rest in the hands of a small minority and the majority of individuals are left to produce in the image of another’s interest. What results is an influx of aura-less objects distributed to marketplaces.
But objects do have communicative abilities and we give them meaning, investing cultural significance, passing objects from a closed, silent existence to an oral state, like a system of language, where objects can communicate certain values. Here values replace needs and so much as we create objects, will their existence as cultural artifact show that they in fact created us?
Material World is my response to our contemporary consumer milieu.
By treating these artifacts of consumer culture as Duchampian-inspired Assisted Readymades, I photograph assemblages, both created by my own hand or existing naturally, that form monuments, or totems, serving as precarious externalizations of culture and social biography. The photographs of the totems then serve as symbolic mirrors, that serve as points of reflection for my own contemplative gaze and that of society’s. The photographs speak of accumulation and materiality and aim to encourage debate about consumption and the ways in which we feel compelled to consume.