We are soliciting personal histories of technological use, disuse, and disposal. Send us your stories and photos, and help raise awareness about the social and environmental impacts of our personal technologies and media practices.
A recent study completed by the Solving E-Waste Problem (StEP) initiative estimates that the amount of global electronic waste will increase by 33 percent, from the 49 million tons tracked in 2012 to over 65 million tons by 2017 (StEP 2013). Given the magnitude of waste, what if we were required to physically store and care for our personal devices, such as cell phones and desktop computers, long after these machines served their intended function? In such an imaginary, unusable technologies remain within our sights, and in our sites.
This project is an opportunity to think through this query by digging into the numerous layers in which our personal technologies and media practices contribute to a mode of ‘technological trauma’ and ‘drama’ that is best described as the trauma and drama of disembodied techno-trash (McLuhan 1962, 1965; Pfaffenberger 1992). For McLuhan, it was electric speed that inundated even the most remote areas in the world with Western technology. Today, the West continues to deluge the Global South with its devices and gadgets, but more often than not, these technologies quickly become obsolete and inoperative, or simply, trash. Electronic waste is increasingly unloaded in countries like China, Ghana, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Vietnam, where facilities or regulations governing recycling initiatives are lax.
Weaving together personal accounts of technological ownership, this project speculates on the life cycles of our devices and gadgets, and postulates not only the environmental burden of contemporary consumption practices, but also the scale of environmental trauma and drama that is symptomatic of global capitalism.
We are soliciting personal histories of technological use, disuse, and disposal.
Send us your stories and photos, and become a participant in raising awareness on the social and environmental impacts of our personal technologies and media practices.
Questions to consider include but are not limited to:
• What technological devices do you use on a daily basis?
• How did you acquire these devices?
• How often do you change/update your phone/laptop?
• What usually makes you want to change your device?
• What devices are you no longer using, but haven’t disposed of?
• How have you disposed of your devices?
• Where do you dispose of them?
• Do you consider the social and environmental impacts of your devices?
TEAM: Techno-Trash is a research project initiated by Mél Hogan and Andrea Zeffiro. As the project evolves, the research team will expand to include a network of scholars, activists, artists, and practitioners invested in topics that intersect the perils of technological waste.