The answer when it comes to recycled art, such as the works cataloged in this post on WebUrbanist, is both. In particular, those works that retain an obvious connection to their trashy origins present a sort of liminality, poised between refuse and value. This suspension is only in appearance and story. A scrap metal dragon has clearly been altered by human hands and skilled ones at that. The real in-betweenness comes when, after sufficient exposure to such art, one sees a pleasingly geometric arrangement of trash on the street.
Is it art? Is it random? Does it matter?
Another question raised by such recycled art is how or whether it differs from the objects made of recycled materials and sold to tourists in places like Cambodia. I myself own a bracelet made of bright yellow papers rolled into beads by landmine survivors. The only difference I see is one of necessity: not that the viewer or owner of the object needs it but that the creator more desperately needs the money that can be earned by selling the item.
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