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 — All images shot in Norwich, Norfolk, England.
‘Litter. Lots and lots of litter. Many of us have become blind to it, desensitised over time. But once you notice it and look for it, you see it everywhere.’
Jason Alexander – founder of Rubbish Walks
Words: Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson
Art and Photograhy: GRRR
Part of an ongoing anthropological study of layered narratives found in naturally occurring intersections between the metaphysical and terrestrial worlds. We examine and document the fabric of our journey through the continuous production of an interconnected body of knowledge and data gathering.
All photographs taken in the UK (Norfolk) 2020–2021.
Shot on iPhone SE.