Many elaborate banquets are held in the city until late each evening. A horrendous amount of garbage is thrown out within sight of onlookers filled with envy toward those inside. The wornout and outdated are abandoned unsparingly. Surplus energy of the city is released and transformed into something to be discarded as garbage. When we come face to face with piles of garbage, we are forced to reflect upon how wasteful we’ve been, and the next moment, we begin striving toward technical solutions. When these are achieved, our wasteful ways are somehow justified. We end up giving validity to the phenomenon of garbage being accumulated endlessly. The incessant repetition of the phenomenon has created huge artificial islands.
As we speed along the expressway, we catch a glimpse of a spindle-shaped building from which soars a horn-like chimney - something reminiscent of a crustacean. The building breathes - a lazy sigh - as if it were bored with the artificial island on which it stands. It is always filled to the brim with a vast assortment of refuse deftly separated. Small wonder the building is always sighing, a bit tired of the whole situation no doubt. The garbage guardian, born to this artificial island, itself a natural outcome of the accumulation of garbage, presents us with a stance bordering on opportunism, almost as if it were amused by our discomfort, There is something about it which makes us uneasy, but we cannot live without it. It keeps an eye on the daily repetition of garbage disgorgement from the city, always functioning in ways apparently satisfactory to au concerned. Here we find ourselves face to face with something solid and substantial. Until recently, the functions and characteristics of incineration plants and other refuse disposal facilities were concealed by keeping their outward appearance as nondescript as possible. But now that their importance is becoming widely recognized, this new, imposing facility looks more outspoken, even challenging.
There may be something dubious about the term “refuse disposal plant,” but now a new term is used to describe this facility: “clean center.” It is of course quite easy to connect the anti-garbage concept to the word “clean.” But frankly, I’m quite bored with this sort of image-changing strategy. Refuse disposal plant seems, to me, a much more suitable moniker. Many people feel that when it comes to refuse disposal, man is rushing toward disaster. To these pessimists, terms like “clean center” may sound naively optimistic. The arrival of an age devoid of a “garbage problem” will be unthinkable. The accumulation of garbage will inevitably create new tracts of land, facilities and even energy that will produce profound repercussions in our environment. Eventually, it will also become difficult to manage the ever-growing accumulation of information. It is even said that the day is not distant when information disposal facilities or “information guardians” win become necessary. It can only be hoped that we can learn to live harmoniously with the waste we generate endlessly every day, and thus avoid creating a world full of “guardians.”
Text by Hiroshi Innami 1994/9