About the Book
The Bureau of Suspended Objects is a one-person organization and archive that investigates discarded and unwanted objects. These objects are “suspended” in several senses: The B.S.O. has suspended them from their trajectory to the dump or landfill, but additionally, they are items whose meaning and value are also in flux after the act of discarding.
Simply put, this book repeatedly asks the question: what accounts for the existence of this object?
Research at the B.S.O. stems from the assumption that we are estranged even from those objects closest to us, or that their inner workings and past lives are too often experienced as opaque and inaccessible. As such, the B.S.O. endeavors to learn how to read and understand an object on its own terms – to understand why and how it came into being.
More specifically, the mission of the B.S.O. is to:
- Photograph, research, and archive as many discarded objects as is reasonably possible.
- Reframe the objects not as items in a static and irreversible category (trash) but as 1) inflection points in an ongoing flow of material and 2) specific products of constantly changing economic contingencies.
- Use photography and research to embody an attitude toward objects that is at once fascinated, sorrowful, and diagnostic.
- Articulate the role of images in manufacturing our desire for objects, explore the interchangeability of objects with their images, and use the archival function of photography – its protest against “time’s relentless melt” (Sontag) – ironically, given that nothing discarded ever truly goes away.
This project was made possible through a residency at Recology SF, the waste-processing facility for San Francisco. Since then, the B.S.O. archive continues to suspend objects from dumpsters, sidewalks, and anywhere that unwanted objects may be found. The archive is online at www.suspended-objects.org.