The artistic afterlife of electronic waste
Embargo Lift Date: 2020-07-16
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This thesis aims to take a closer look at artistic projects that use discarded electronic parts as preferred medium. Electronic waste cumulates as the result of a highly technological era. The artworks that take part in this thesis emphasize that obsolete electronics should not be considered waste. From an array of artworks presented, works from artists such as Grégory Chatonsky, Walter Giers and Gabriel Dishaw partake in this thesis. In order to scrutinize these artworks, this study adopts a theoretical perspective that is strongly rooted in Deleuze and Guattari’s concepts of ‘becoming,’ ‘rhizome’ and ‘deterritorialization.’ These theories are applied to the fluid state of geological properties—such as aluminium, gold, copper and tantalum— that make up electronic devices. The contents that bring electronics to life are mined predominantly from the inner layers of the earth’s strata; therefore, their becomings are initiated long before their functionality in electronics. Contributing to and expanding upon the Deleuzian-Guattarian thought, Braidotti’s articulations on ‘becoming-nomad’ and her argument that nomadic ethics is the path for a sustainable future is also utilized. Besides, engaging in a different perspective toward media, Parikka emphasizes the need to look at media hardware and understand the contents that makes electronics function. Through art, identifying obsolete electronics with a potential for further use engages with issues of sustainability.