Throw It All Away – A Project of Obsessive Behavior

Throw It All Away is a video project I started in April 2011, though if I wanted to get technical about it I think it started sometime around the end of high school in 2002. It is a collection of 1400+ photos taken from my collection of assorted mementos, and then thrown out to the trash when I realized what the hell I was doing to myself. Not only that, but there were honestly a lot more items I didn’t bother to photograph, given how exhausted I was from the process. If it isn’t fairly apparent with the project presentation itself, I had a serious problem. Probably still do. Let’s have a story time, shall we?

As I’ve made it fairly well known, I can’t say much for myself during the years I started doing this, but I at least know the reason I started the collection: I wanted to have physical items to remind me of memories past. This need eventually grew to a lot of items outside movie tickets,  letters, and photos (most of which I never took myself, but were others). Soon I was collecting receipts from purchases I found notable, such as the time I bought toothpaste and a few other things. I can’t verify that for certain, but I’d believe it given how the collection turned out. Eventually I had a huge stack of papers I didn’t know what to do with, making my already messy room all the more chaotic.

I of course couldn’t throw any of it away, because everything was so important. With a little creativity, I figured I could scrapbook the collection, allowing me to store them like a photo album (of which to date I have none). Not wanting to bother with buying book after book, especially given some of what I had was larger than a book can handle, I decided to make use of large poster board paper I had and taped everything on. This way I could fill my room with posters of my collection. Yes, I thought this was a sensible idea. So I got through the work of making who knows how many posters, eventually finding I had a lot of empty space some of my mementos couldn’t fit in after placing everything else. The solution? Actively hunt for paper scraps to put on posters. No longer mementos, I was hunting through rubbish about to be thrown in the hopes of it filling open spaces of my wretched collage. This is of course where I feel my greatest shame of the ordeal, let alone the shame I started doing this at all.

And then I moved to Milwaukee in 2008, and had to store my large collection of not only posters, but bags of mementos which was still growing. I just couldn’t through them out, you know? They took up space in my large attic space, and were moved once more to my home in The Hood, where they sat behind a small shelf which held my collection of preferred DVD and VHS films. For almost two years. All the while collecting material for the posters, because I had to get them finished, yet other things were taking up my time, you know? I don’t know what it was exactly that kicked me in the head, but I eventually opened my eyes and saw the collection for what it was: a waste of space and time. So I tossed the lot out, fed up with how much time I wasted on something that would never matter.

To be fair, this obsessive behavior of mine is really nothing new, as was seen in a similar film Throwing Out Yesterday. Ignore the fact I used some of the same lines of dialogue in my newer project. Or pay attention, because in all respects I have made a sequel. It’s bigger, better, larger in scope, and continues from where the story left off. In regards to that project, they were mostly newspapers/magazines I had either wanted to finally read or save. Sense caught up with me on that, though it took a lot longer with the collection in the current project. Lesson learned…or not?

Here’s the kicker of it all after having finished the project: all of this is nothing more than another form of the same obsession which had me start the collection. I didn’t have to go down the path of taking 1400+ photos, which by the way weren’t photos but frames from footage filmed of the collection because I didn’t have photo capability at the time. I figured I could work things in the editing room, you know? Horrible mistake, because it just added on weeks of work (in consideration to how fast I work that is). Point being, I didn’t have to go through this wretched business, and I could have just forgotten about the project all together. Yet something in me wouldn’t let go, and I had to save the collection I some manageable manner. A digital overview takes up a lot less space and makes for faster viewing, yes?

I could go easy on myself and note I simply realized this would make for a very good project, but I’ve never been keen on giving myself credit for having foresight. You must admit though, it is a fascinating look into my life, should you have the patience and curiosity you can see every individual photo. Or just let it roll away like a bad memory and taken out to the trash. May be better for your peace of mind in the long run.

If there’s something good to say about the obsessions I find myself having, it’s the drive to never really give up lest things are shown to be completely futile. I not only persevered through this, but another project for a friend with footage taken in February 2011 (eventually to be an ongoing series…maybe). My life is filled with plenty of unfinished and potential projects, and I actually have the gall to think I can do them all whilst taking on new ones. It’s a tad delusional, but it feels good to know that no matter what happens I’ll finish what I start. Now to just make sure the process happens in a quicker fashion. Just another one of those things I’ll eventually do, you know?

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