Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Visualizing waste / material excess

"Where does the ゴミ [garbage] stop and the world begin?"
-- William Gibson from 'The Winter Market'

"[In William Gibson's 'The Winter Market'] garbage properly belongs to, and defines, the periphery; but in Rubin’s vision it has invaded the center and threatens eventually to bury it. Yet Gibson does not present this invasion of the center as an entirely negative process. Postmodernism, to venture a generalization, is interested in waste. Waste is a dark counterpart to the surplus value created by material or cultural production; it is an ironic or parodic final twist to the process. At the same time, it is from the periphery, and from waste, that new vitality can arise and new values be created. Each side of the value/waste opposition defines the other, and life itself exists between the polarities of sterility and decay, what is gold and what is shit."
-- Paul Delany from “Hardly the Center of the World”

I'm reminded of La Part Maudite of Bataille's solar economy -- be it violence, luxury, eroticism, or the material waste of an excessive consumer culture. What defines us is not how we deal with scarcity and necessity, but how we choose to deal with excess and waste. The following projects attempt to visualize the material waste of our everyday lives, that which is too easily swept away and forgotten...

Photographer: Chris Jordon

Photographer : Edward Burtynsky

"Journalism students from the University of British Columbia uncovered some secret U.S. military information amid electronic waste shipped abroad ... Criminals also scour the hard drives for credit card information, social security numbers and other personal information ... the recycling of electronic waste pollutes the environment and poisons people who scavenge the e-waste for metal, producing high levels of lead in children and mother's breast milk ... The United States can dump potentially dangerous electronics abroad because the country hasn't ratified an international treaty banning the export of hazardous waste."
-- The Vancouver Sun

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