After a long and painful period of illness, I’m very happy to be able to resume studies this week. I’m reacquainting myself with my own research and recommencing my thesis first draft.

Things to distract me from the task at hand include a new series on consumerism on BBC2: The Men Who Made us Spend

The first episode addresses built in obsolescence which is all about increased profit margins on consumer goods and results in vast amounts of unnecessary waste.

Episode 1: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p01zxmrv/the-men-who-made-us-spend-episode-1


The second episode looks at the health industry and the how the drugs companies increase consumer spending by manipulating health anxiety (fear of death). The increase in products branded as healthy, including bottled waters and the like sell the consumer more products they don’t need and in doing so add more packing to landfill.

Episode 2: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p01zxn0l/the-men-who-made-us-spend-episode-2


The third episode focusses on merchandising and collectables, particularly directed at children, incorporating film, TV and video with the branded toy market as well as ‘gamification’ of the food industry, plus credit cards and ebay/paypal facilitating instant consumer gratification.

Episode 3: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p01zxnk9/the-men-who-made-us-spend-episode-3



In other rubbish news; an LA based professor is visiting me in Halifax to talk rubbish for research on her book on trash. Her research interests include cultural studies, gender studies, transatlantic studies and comparative literature so I’m very much looking forward to meeting and talking rubbish with her!


I’m very pleased that Hannah Allen visited my show in Blackpool and wrote a review for Corridor 8: http://www.corridor8.co.uk/online/review-alice-bra…

“A large body of research is disseminated and contextualised in this throwaway (often unwanted) medium of the free newspaper. The subject of rubbish is broken down into its taxonomic elements (eg detritus, rejects, litter), these sub-categories become collections in themselves, of theories and works that have now been transformed through the disposable nature of the newspaper as medium. The paper communicates this research in a way which reflects on the content: through quotations, references and Bradshaw’s charmingly simplistic renderings of the artworks she cites.”


Rubbish Converastions #1

Thank you to everyone who made it to the opening of the new Museum of Contemporary Rubbish exhibition.

Lots of Rubbish Conversations were had varying from the price of scrap, value systems, recycling, to the specifics about my work.

A couple of people said the Rubbish Conversations element made the show for them and they enjoyed talking to me about my work and rubbish in general which was really great to hear.

It’s possible that I’ll go back and talk to a group of students at a later date during the show which could also be opened up to the public too for Rubbish Conversations #2.


Currently reading: Wretched of the Screen by Hito Steyerl, 2012, eflux Journal, Sternberg Press. Edited by Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle.

Part 5/5

Spam of the Earth: Withdrawal from Representation

Steyerl’s essay on spam is of interest because this is the image rubbish of the digital world, although digital rubbish is an area I have consciously omitted from the main part of my research, instead choosing to focus on rubbish of the physical world.

In defining image spam, Steyerl notes: “Image spam is one of the many dark matters of the digital world; spam tries to avoid detection by filters by presenting its message as an image file. […] Image spam is our message to the future. (p.161). Image spam, […] is a negative image (what it is not).” (p.165)

Steyerl bring the class issue back into focus and mentions trash TV (p.166): “The numbing presence of trash talk and game shows has led to a situation in which TV has become a medium inextricably linked to the parading and ridiculing of the lower classes.” Just recently the BBC published an article on the socio-economic class divide of readers and watchers: England ‘divided into readers and watchers’ By Hannah Richardson 11/03/14 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-26515836


Currently reading: Wretched of the Screen by Hito Steyerl, 2012, eflux Journal, Sternberg Press. Edited by Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle.

Part 4/5

A Thing Like You and Me

In this essay Steyerl discusses the image as fragment (p.52) and the notion of images (pertaining to) forensic evidence (p.53). Here, images are ruins and scraps symbolising power and violence. She references Benjamin: “Things are never just inert objects, passive items, or lifeless shucks, but consist of tensions, forces, hidden powers, all being constantly exchanged.” Walter Benjamin – On Language as such and the Languages of Man in Selected Writings 1:69.

Rubbish, like the image, is often fragmentary and Steyerl also uses two key synonyms ruins and scraps. Rubbish as forensic evidence (of destruction/power/violence) has been noted here before. Rubbish and the image could be made synonymous for purposes of illustration, but really they are separation notions with significant overlap. Rubbish is made into or represented as image and image becomes rubbish (scrap or ruins).

The notion of rubbish ‘containing’ social histories has also come up many times before in my research. The pre-used aspect loads rubbish with meaning. Even a brand new commodity on a shop shelf has a social history in that it has had a life before – being manufactured, handled and shipped – and has a potential life ahead – being purchased (exchanged for money), used, discarded and replaced or exchanged again. As Steyerl puts it: “The commodity, too, is understood not as a simple object, but a condensation of social forces,” (The Language of Things, June 2006).

In summary, Steyerl brings Benjamin back into focus and updates his post-war notion: “History, as Benjamin told us, is a pile of rubble. Only we are not staring at it any longer from the point of view of Benjamin’s shell-shocked angel. We are not the angel. We are the rubble. We are this pile of scrap.” (p.56)