Experiment 6: Decomposition

For my final experiment, I chose to decompose both my 3rd and 5th experiments. In my 3rd experiment I took an inventory of a student’s trash can while in my 5th experiment I drew a visual proposal for my final paper. In this proposal, I hoped to depict the fatalistic message that I believe is conveyed through the story of Branford the Bee in Chris Ware’s Building Stories. For those familiar with the two previous experiments, you will notice that the pieces of trash that I’ve used for this final experiment are limited to those found in my 3rd experiment (with the exception of a few small pieces of tape to help hold together the signs, and the markers to draw the signs and make the bloody napkin, all of which are shown below). The overall “map” also resembles the one drawn in my visual proposal. The “trash” for this experiment was not collected from the same student’s trash can. It was either bought (the Emergen-C and cereal), acquired from the dining hall (bananas and orange), or found in my own personal trash (the napkins, contacts, and receipt).

Some of the parallels include:
– Banana = pathway
– Emergen-C + water + contacts case = poison (Emergen-C and the poison are both chemicals! And the colors of the “poisons” match the headwear of Betty and the queen.)
– Cereal boxes = Branford (his body is quite large)
– Napkins and oranges = flowers (the oranges were also very fragrant)
– Contacts “lid” + Q-tips = signs
– Receipt = tombstone
– Cereal = dead Branford (some of the contents of the cereal box poured out…)
– “Bloody” napkin = more of dead Branford (I thought the suspicious red, potentially bloody, napkin from Experiment 3 nicely fit into the fatalistic idea so I colored a napkin red to resemble the original bloody napkin from Experiment 3)

In this final experiment I chose to reinvent two of my previous experiments by combining them in order to bring out some of the new developments in my final paper ideas since my visual proposal. In my final paper I hope to highlight how Branford’s story highlights the story and beauty of an unrecognized, quotidian life. As I explained in my post for Experiment 3, an individual’s trash reveals much about an individual’s life. Trash reveals more about an individual than he or she sometimes wants to or even can convey. We similarly gain a greater understanding of the protagonist through her story of Branford. I hope to argue in my paper that, like Branford, the protagonist feels trapped between two paths in her life (loving her family or turning towards her own passions, in the protagonist’s case) and as someone who is ordinary and unappreciated (like Branford in the hive). Although we see some of the protagonist’s conflict of interests in the rest of Building Stories, I believe that Branford helps articulate this idea that ordinary people have interesting stories and also helps to highlight the protagonist’s story. Furthermore, Branford’s story highlights how the protagonist tries to reaffirm herself of her self-worth and the importance of her actions. As a piece of supporting evidence in Branford’s story, I will cite the reference to Branford as the bacterium that is helping with compost and the growth of new flowers. Similarly, I believe that the protagonist believes that her actions have great worth and will bring new life (in her daughter) even after she dies. I try to illustrate this second idea of new growth through the banana peels. The peels represent the paths of Branford (or the protagonist) and although the two paths ultimately lead to the same dark ending, there is hope because these paths will (literally, as the peels compost away after being thrown away) lead to new growth.

Thanks for reading!


Inventory: trash is the window into another man’s life

All items found in a student’s trash can at 11:38pm on March 3, 2014 in a Princeton dorm hallway.

Thankfully no one saw me pull up the trash bag from the can as it sat in front of the student’s door. A few hallmates did look, however, at me strangely as I walked towards and into my room with an irregular-shaped, non-empty bag of trash. It was not a rainy day so it was clear that I wasn’t using the trash bag as a cover for whatever I was carrying inside the lumpy bag.

In my room, I used a new trash bag as a glove as I pulled out each item from the trash and placed it on a white sheet of paper. I placed the items in groups to create some sort of order in the trash (below), but can there be order in trash? I unfortunately did not think about recording the order of the items in the trash (from top to bottom) to determine some sort of chronology for the trash.

From the trash, I could gather much information about what the individual had eaten (from the wrappers, peels, and receipts), worn (contacts), and used (napkins, Q-tips, floss) recently. I could also gather a few places where the individual had gone in the past week (from the receipts). But really trying to determine more information about the individual and his/her habits was pure speculation. Was this even all his/her trash? Maybe a friend had visited the individual’s room and this friend left some trash in the individual’s room. This event would be recorded by the trash contents. The trash does provide a record but unless the individual can shed light on the contents, my knowledge of the individual is relatively limited. I gathered so much information but also so little at the same time. Who can know? Who wants to know? Why am I even looking through someone’s trash? But, to be honest, it was interesting…at least the trash was relatively simple without any scandalous or creepy contents that I did not want to touch or have knowledge of.

  • 3 receipts: Panera Bread (1 Breakfast Power Sandwich + 1 Steel Cut Oatmeal; total $8.97), Shake Shack (Concrete Single MInT Chocolate; total $4.55), McDonald’s (1 Grilled Chicken Southwest Salad + 1 ChpBQ Snack Wrap; total $8.75)
  • 4 empty contact lens cases: 2 cases of -8.0 prescription. 2 cases of -8.5 prescription.
  • 1 dried up contact lens
  • 2 used Q-tips
  • 1 string of floss
  • 6 empty packs of Emergen-C: 3 Orange flavor, 2 Raspberry flavor, 1 Tropical flavor
  • 2 empty cereal bowls: 1 Frosted Mini Wheats (with some leftovers inside), 1 Kashi GOLEAN Crunch!
  • 1 empty Rold Gold Pretzel bag
  • 2 empty Balance Cookie Dough bar wrappers
  • 2 banana peels: 1 dried and hard (with brown napkin stuck to it), 1 soft
  • Approximately 1 orange peel (dried, hard) 
  • 10 brown napkins: 1 had a dark red stain on it
  • 6 white napkins
  • 2 empty packs of Emergen-C Immune+:  1 Blueberry Acai flavor, 1 Citrus flavor

WP_20140304_002 Trash Collage

Victor: Day 1 Introductions

A limerick about me…
Victor’s a swimmer from the Great Northwest,
Who’d rather write papers than take a test,
But a biologist he is (no English experience is his),
Thankful he left the class not distressed.

Morning Practice

A limerick about Erica…
COS is Miss Erica’s main subject,
And she must be quite the intellect,
To be head TA, showing others the way
To not failing her beloved subject.