I hate finding litter when I’m hiking.

A key tenet of the outdoors is “take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints”. Even so, I always end up packing out people's trash.

One type of litter in particular started to draw my attention: Mylar balloons that I found tangled in juniper, sagebrush, chamise, and manzanita. 

These balloons started out at some stranger's celebration and then were released without a thought as to where they would land. They ended up in the middle of nowhere, an anonymous and faded memory lost in nature.

Mylar balloons are an unfortunately archival material. They are categorized as "non-biodegradable," meaning they do not break down over time. So a balloon that was used for a few hours at the most could spend almost an eternity existing in otherwise unspoiled wilderness.

Time has nevertheless taken a toll on them. The balloons' previously bright and shiny designs have been marred by holes, dirt, and bleaching from the sun. Some have been ripped to shreds.

These objects are the afterlife of a momentary celebration accidentally laid to rest in nature, bearing the destructive marks of time. I used a fan to blow some life back into the balloons while photographing them, delivering shapes and textures that can at times feel almost organic, even though the colors and shine of the objects denote their unnatural origin.

The images are intended as a sort of requiem for the balloons, and by extension a reflection on human consumption and the natural world.

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