Museum of the Moving Image is currently presentingSINGLE STREAM (2013), a new large-scale video work by Paweł Wojtasik, Toby Lee, and Ernst Karel. A visual and sonic exploration inside a recycling facility, the video blurs the line between observation and abstraction, plunging the viewer into the steady flow of the plant and capturing the complex processes devised to treat the enormous amount of waste Americans produce every day. SINGLE STREAM, which opened on July 3, is on view in the Museum’s lobby, as a 50×8 foot-long projection, through November 3, 2013. Since its renovation in 2011, the lobby wall has been a showcase for
adventurous video installations and curated exhibits of web art.
The title of the piece refers to the highly effective “single-stream” method of recycling in which all types of recyclables are initially gathered together, and sorted later at a specialized materials recovery facility, or MRF. Over the past two decades, single-stream recycling has greatly increased the rate and decreased the costs of recycling.
“SINGLE STREAM is an arresting meditation at an enormous scale. It offers a fascinating window into a world rarely seen,” said Jason Eppink, associate curator of digital media.
“The scene inside a single-stream plant depicts a complex ballet of man, machine, and movement, producing sounds and images that are overwhelming, but also unexpectedly beautiful, and even revelatory,” said Paweł Wojtasik. “In a space like this, we come face to face with our waste, its magnitude and its consequences.”
SINGLE STREAM was shot in a single-stream plant in Charlestown, Massachusetts—the fourth largest MRF in the United States—where hundreds of tons of refuse are sorted and processed every day inside a building the size of an airplane hangar. All sound was recorded on location.