Dumpster Archeology (2024)
Dumpster Archeology (2024)

Genre: Documentary and Short Running Time: 15 min.

Release Date: January 21st, 2024 MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: Dustie Carter Actors: Lew Blink

 


 

A

lone man walks through a dimly lit alleyway, heading for a large refuse bin. And then, unexpectedly, he dives on in. That man is Lew Blink, a self-proclaimed “dumpster archeologist” (the term never existed before; he made it up), who scours the city’s trash cans, looking for fascination. He’s an artist and a storyteller, and he hopes that the garbage people leave behind will inspire him; certainly, it’s a unique source of inspiration. “Imagine everything in your apartment suddenly ended up in a dumpster. What would the world glean from the things you left behind?”

As he shares the various “treasures” he’s unearthed – from a bearded dragon to a disco ball to a 1939 saxophone to all sorts of discarded artwork – it’s notable that he’s invaded the privacy of a select few subjects, whose lives he’s documented and preserved in suitcases and albums. Some of these personas are forgotten folks, whose insignificant lives are pieced together through their junk; books, paintings, diaries, and more, that give shape to some rather engaging entities – though it’s difficult to dismiss the fact that these are personal artifacts that were not meant to (or could not have been envisioned to) end up in someone else’s collection of curiosities. In a morbid way, it’s reminiscent of human bodies donated to science – there’s no guarantee that those cadavers will be treated with respect or reverence or even a worthwhile form of scientific experimentation.

“I’m not trying to expose people.” Blink believes everyone is amazing and has stories to tell, though he’s invasively doing this work for them, rather than with their participation and consent. Shedding some light on how trash is accessible by anyone – perhaps serving as a comical cautionary tale – “Dumpster Archeology” very briefly charts its central character’s singular mission, though it gives scant details on what specifically drives him, or how his hobby has changed any of the people he’s scrutinized. Likely, they’ll never know they became the momentary captivation of some random man – nor would they want to.

Either way, this short documentary isn’t without charm, even if it doesn’t go far enough into the minutia of Blink’s obsession. There are simply not enough questions asked or answers given to suitably grasp what makes him tick. But at least he appears good-natured and good-humored while conducting activities that many would look down upon. Problematically, the ultimate question becomes whether or not what he’s doing provides entertainment value in the medium of film, to which the answer is, only inconsequentially so. It’s worth a look, but it has minimal lasting power.

– Mike Massie

  • 5/10