Thursday, May 24, 2012

The medium is the message

Congratulations are due to the city of Los Angeles, which yesterday passed a plastic grocery bag ban, becoming the largest city in America to do so.

Here in New York City, things are different.  The State of New York has a recycling law for bags, which "requires large retail stores and shopping malls, as well as medium to large chain stores that sell products and provide plastic carryout bags to accept clean plastic bags for recycling, and to stock reusable bags for purchase, starting January 2009."  Has the law made a dent?  Hard to say.  Reusable bags are certainly more popular and stores do stock them for purchase, but I have my doubts about the recycling part of the law.  

Meanwhile, in Williamsburg...

Takeshi Miyakawa, a visual artist and furniture designer, was arrested Saturday after placing the installation in two separate areas of the same New York City neighborhood. His lawyer and employer both called the arrest a misunderstanding.
The first apparatus was found Friday morning after a caller reported a suspicious package to police. It consisted of a plastic bag that contained a battery and was suspended from a metal rod attached to a tree. The bag, which had the classic "I Love New York" logo printed on it, was connected by a wire to a plastic box that contained more wires.
The area was evacuated for two hours until a bomb squad determined that the device was not dangerous.
The artist's friend, Louis Lim, said Monday that the art installation was nothing more than a translucent plastic bag with a battery-powered flashlight inside it.
"At night, when it's hung, it looks like the bag is glowing," Lim said. "The reason he did this was to lift people's spirits. He was simply trying to say that he loves the city and spread that attitude around."
I too, love New York.  And I should follow Takeshi Miyakawa's example by showing it more, and spreading the attitude.  But instead of glowing plastic bags in trees and on lamp posts, how about a little more awareness of plastic pollution in our city?

It doesn't seem that Miyakawa intended to make a statement about plastic pollution, public art, civil obedience/disobedience, terrorism and fear, but those are the issues that come up for me.  How about you?  I'm not much of an art critic- if you were to describe this installation, including the public aftermath, how would you describe it?