This installation by Nelson, British Columbia-based architect turned sculptor Ian Johnston is one of several works that comprise his series Refuse Culture: Archaeology of Consumption. By employing scale, repetition and intense, enveloping colour, Johnston’s work transports viewers to a new sensorial experience.

Swimming Upstream employs vinyl car bumpers. In other iterations of the series, Johnston incorporated ceramics and objects often dismissed as the flotsam of daily life—razors, radios and hairdryers—into similarly immersive experiences.

Johnston’s repurposed bumpers allude to the beauty of the natural world. Here the inexplicable drive of salmon to their spawning grounds melds with elements of Modernist notions of progress and perfection, such as classic car forms and the colour, which Yves Klein felt expressed utopian purity. These factors blend and partially distort one another, referencing the stress faced by ecosystems and the fact that the optimism symbolized the mass-produced shapes have been abandoned much like the original bumpers themselves.