Friday, April 9, 2010

structured deposition

After seeing Rory's post on the ephemeral (and yet so solid looking!) traces that appear in the city with snow, we thought we'd consider some of the other urban ephemera that appear with the weather. Notably umbrellas. The one clutched by Brian in this picture has suffered a catastrophic collapse. In its exposed innards we can glimpse the moment when its owner was battered to a point of submission by the wind and rain and tossed it aside.

We're not the only people to notice the abandoned urban umbrella - Mulberry Street has compiled a rather lovely collection, suggesting that these umbrellas have been blown "back from the underworld".

Discarded umbrellas flap and quiver like dead and dying birds, their exposed and broken skeletons only adding to their somewhat creepy quality. But broken umbrellas aren't abandoned just anywhere. They cluster around trashcans, subway entrances, in gutters and against walls. They mark transition points - into the protection of subway and shop entranceways, and steamy cab interiors with their promise of escape from the rain. This is where umbrellas are finally abandoned. Here they become urban trash, ready to be collected. What would future archaeologists know of them?

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