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Julian Montague’s Stray Shopping Cart Project ought to please both objectophiles and processophiles (for different reasons–which suggests a pragmatic solution to that debate):

“Until now, the major obstacle that has prevented people from thinking critically about stray shopping carts has been that we have not had any formalized language to differentiate one shopping cart from another.

“In order to encourage a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon, I have worked for the past six years to develop a system of identification for stray shopping carts. Unlike a Linaean taxonomy, which is based on the shared physical characteristics of living things, this system works by defining the various states and situations in which stray shopping carts can be found. The categories of classification were arrived at by observing shopping carts in different situations and considering the conditions and human motives that have placed carts in specific situations and the potential for a cart to transition from one situation to another.”

Montague is developing a full taxonomy of false and true strays, from the train damaged to the (semi-)naturalized, in different locations around the world (but especially Buffalo, Cleveland, and environs).

One of the first things I try to get my intro Nature & Culture students to think about is where things come from and where they go… That’s process (a.k.a. life-cycle analysis). On the other hand, there’s the vibrant materiality of each specific shopping cart, and of the whole population of them as they scatter into the bloodstream of non-shopping-cart-world.

There’s something very Mark Dion-ish about this kind of performative eco-art that mixes obsessive classification and documentation with archaeology and garbology for insights into the industrial ecology of our world.

Now if only we can get these into our Amazon shopping carts (har-har)…

H/t to Next Nature.

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