Los Angeles-based photographer Lorena Turner is a self-described “social scientist with a camera.” Her series Made in China is an examination of consumerism in the United States. Turner purchases products, dusts them for fingerprints and then photographs the object under a black light to try and tell a story about its creation.
Above are a tape measure, two rubik’s cubes and the back of a clock.
It is not expected that as consumers we be concerned with the actual production of the items we purchase. In fact it makes us more effective consumers to maintain a perspective that is abstracted from that process. When we buy the basic goods we use on a daily basis, there is an assumption they are clean, untainted, absent of a history. Made in China asks us to reconsider that.
For this project, items made and packaged in China were purchased in US department stores and bodegas. They remained in their original packaging until they were dusted for fingerprints and then photographed under black lights. This process allowed for the evidence of another’s touch, quite possibly the person involved in constructing and packaging the item, to be revealed.Made in China highlights the human factor and invisible history in each object’s production, and forces us to reconsider the relationship those who are leaving their fingerprints on each item may have with it.
Made in China is not intended to comment on the scale or absurdity of our consumptive practices, but to remind us that we are only one factor in that equation.
It goes without saying that we love this project. I remember visiting our factories in China for the first time and being amazed by the number of people that are responsible for making just one of our products. I realized then that even though I’m in this business of producing, I’d never considered what goes into the creation of the things I buy. It’s an interesting dichotomy, and one that has certainly changed my views on consumerism, commercialism and my own personal desire to own “stuff.” I’ve contemplated adopting a minimalist lifestyle, but for the time being I’ve simply settled on getting rid of something I own everything I buy something new. And that feels good so far.
Check out the rest of Made in China here.