In this practice-led exploration, I investigate the aesthetic potential of household waste. With household waste as the object of investigation, I explore the cultural signification of waste in terms of the role it plays in art practice. I look into the found object, bricoleur culture and the sculptural process of assemblage. By considering how assemblage allows for the inclusion of waste materials, the lowly status of household waste leads my art practice to a do-it-yourself approach. This approach of incorporating waste materials into artworks shifts the focus from the physical state to the conceptual meaning of waste. The shift that occurs when the waste object is displaced into art is central to this research study, owing to the capacity of these objects to connote meaning. I refer to this capacity as the social agency of waste materials. My investigation pertains to how art practice may alter or enhance the meaning of household waste. The physical cycle of waste, the constant change in use value that is promoted by consumer society and the process of conceptual adaptation instil a nomadic quality in household waste. I view the nomadic quality of waste as a means to activate viewer participation.
I investigate, in particular case studies, how the interrelationship of installation art, site-specificity and community-based art may contribute to an experiential mode of viewing. I apply the lens of phenomenology and contemporary environmental aesthetics to interpret how viewers engage with art installations. My investigation of confrontational art installations has informed the approach of my own creative research. To convey the nomadic quality of waste, I have developed a series of quasi-functional sculptural artworks that act as mechanical modes of movement to signify an industrial influence of consumerism. Through community art practice as an interrelated field of research, the community members of Rietondale, particularly the school learners from workshops I presented, influenced my approach to my own art practice as I had sought to influence theirs. This mini-dissertation serves as a reflection on the coinciding thought process, material journey and collaborative initiative of a practice-led exploration of the aesthetics of household waste.