"Nothing New" Flotsam Series
Nearly seven years ago Lowell Nickel started collecting and photographing flotsam and jetsam from Southern California beaches. As he began photographing these objects in clusters, initially small groups as photomontage, these "trashy" compositions like the flotsam, expanded. He continued toying with these beached found objects. Assembling, structuring and composing he watched this theme evolve with a playful sense of irony. All that weathered junk became re-presented as worthy subject matter having, but are not limited to, properties of some elegance—more than attractive or even decorative deliberations of rubbish. Most often, these formal clusters are flowing within an atmospheric darkness suggesting a transitional or ephemeral contact. The vision quest with these cluster compositions is to find a kind of lyrical renewal... a "beautiful" documentation for our own beached cast offs.
A lifetime of beach combing initially influenced the conceptual base for this project. Nickel cut his teeth on the beaches where the LA "sewer meets the sea" Playa Del Rey, CA. As the artist logged decades of surfing, combing and musing on the world's beaches a real life narrative came along to support this odd even obsessive art making practice. The public recognition of the North Pacific Gyre, also know as "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch" may have given new readings for these idealized compositions. These compositions can now be recordings of real or imagined great stormy seas of flotsam & jetsam. Providing this context is not necessary but by displaying this decomposing stuff as art he would hope to slyly seduce viewers with inquiry.
There's nothing new here—it is all just repackaged and recycled. These images may even challenge the viewer to consider tracking ones own steps relative to a personal recognition of a much larger cultural foot print, one that is of great importance to us as well as for generations to come.