Artist's Statement

Melanie Walker

Dawning of the Anthropocene

Humans have tipped the Earth into a new chapter of geological history that started around 1950, scientists claim, close to the time I was born. It is the most recent date considered for the beginning of the Anthropocene epoch – a time in which humans permanently changed the planet with the widespread use of concrete, aluminum, plastic and nuclear weapons, as well as the burning of coal and gas along with massive over-consumption.

These images have been in the making for over 50 years, representing a posthumous collaboration with my father and an investigation of the materiality and impermance of the photographic medium. The negatives have been subjected to fluctuations in temperature and moisture and barely cling to the base of the film. The images were made during the early Mad Men era to entice consumerism at the beginning of what is now being referred to as the Anthropocene. The objects photographed are more than likely absorbed into the new geologic strata in landfills scattered around the country. It is fitting these images barely cling to their base.

Working for the last 20 years sorting through my father’s vast archive, there are many destroyed negatives that would not be accepted into an archive due to their decayed state. I am intrigued by the way time, heat and moisture have altered the negatives and interacted with the images originally recorded during my childhood. Somehow the content seems apt in this time of looking backward with nostalgic rhetoric to “make America great again”. They represent time capsules, fragile and beautiful in their decay harkening back to the beginning of the Anthropocene…frozen in a new form like insects locked in amber.