THE OPENING LINES TO PALE BLUE EYES, written by Lou Reed and recorded by the Velvet Underground has become a personal and abstract expression for a feeling I have been experiencing lately. To be specific, the feeling happens when walking in my neighbourhood, city and in nature. The sadness doesn’t come from lost love as Lou himself explains, it comes from the frequency I see disposable face coverings discarded as litter — I did say it was abstract — It’s an epidemic of sorts, I am unable to verify if it’s at pandemic levels because England is currently in a government lock-down due to Covid–19 slash Sars–Cov–2 slash Coronovirus. The situation is terrible in Norwich and every time I venture out I see more and more tiny Pale Blue patches strewn on the pavement, some even appear in trees hung like Christmas decorations. This makes me sad. It’s a disturbing trend for 2 reasons, firstly because I love the colour blue, especially this tone! Who doesn’t? Seeing the colour sometimes makes me happy, I can‘t help it. Just like I can’t help taking pictures. I am all too aware taking pictures of face masks is a strange thing to do even by my standards! Observation (of weird things) was something I learned at Art School. Sent out with a camera (PENTAX 35MM) with a loose objective slash aim: Observe what you see and once attracted to a subject: Repeat the experiment as many times as possible. Taxonomies of attraction. Typologies of obsession. Sometimes a subject of interest is intermittent and sometimes they are ongoing and last years. I digress sorry, with good intentions… it’s not the first time I have spoken about rubbish and how street photography cemented my realisation: there is a lot more litter in our cities and countryside, compared to even 20 years ago.
The second disturbing reason is quite simple, some might say the conditions needed to require a surgical grade (SINGLE USE) disposable face mask also require its careful and conscientious disposal. The medical profession disposes of these things carefully for a reason. I can’t help worry about the materials used, the production and distribution carbon footprint when I think about something that ends up as rubbish. The blue variety are made from Polypropylene and it’s estimated 194 Billion disposable (it can take 450 years to fully degrade in nature) face masks and gloves are being used a month and the WWF suggests, even if a small percentage make its way into nature, rivers or seas it could still be upward of 10,000,000 (10 million) pieces of plastic (A MONTH) that didn’t exist in these quantities back in 2019 and now they are floating around as litter – this makes me mad. Please stop littering your face masks!
IN PICTURES — The streets of Norwich, Norfolk, England.