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Cultural Byproducts and Imagining in Human-Environmental Interactions

By Delcia Orona

This collection aims to capture a glimpse of the traces present in Isla Vista, on the UC Santa Barbara campus, and general surrounding area. With this collection, we can begin to recognize the commonly unseen or forgotten, and reimagine our influence on the environment. We can imagine an experience of a person in the environment, and imagine a history present at that space or location. We can explore the historic and imaginary possibilities of the means by which the trace came to be, as a ‘cultural byproduct’ of our existence in the world. These photos allow for personal exploration, discovery, and imagination, and hopefully inspire a sense of wonder, curiosity, or encourage rethinking our material surroundings. With practice, we can begin to practice “mindful looking”, and see the intrinsic value in the traces we often leave out of artistic, cultural, and academic spaces.

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What is a trace?

“An indication or evidence of the presence or existence of something, or of a former event or condition; a sign, mark” (Reimer 2010).

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“. . . traces help us to explore the materiality - not only in the narratives - that resides at the intersection of the seen and unseen - sound and silence - the coming into being of the social and its recession . . .” (Napolitano 2015).

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Where are they found?

Traces are found just about anywhere that humans have been - the most simple being through a footprint. We leave something behind everywhere we go.

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What do they mean?

They have a number of meanings, while also meaning nothing at all. They are open to interpretation. They live a life of their own, existing and disappearing, changing over time. They indicate an experience, a history, and a presence in the environment. Each trace is unique in its meaning.

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