Julia Christensen, E-Waste Processing Plant, Southern India, January 2012. Sound file, 4:48 min.
The term “recycling” has murky definitions as far as electronic trash is concerned, and most international e-waste recycling centers carry on their practices undocumented. The artist made this guerrilla sound recording at an e-waste processing plant in India after she was asked not to document anything on-site; the recording reveals the sound of 25 people manually dismantling a mountain of e-waste under the hot India sun. Computers, DVD players, and monitors are smashed open, so that employees can ultimately dig out the precious metals inside.
Julia Christensen (www.juliachristensen.com) is an artist and writer whose work explores systems of technology, consumerism, landscape, and history. Her work has been in solo and group exhibitions at venues such as Eyebeam (NYC, NY), Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (Cleveland, OH), Austrian Cultural Forum (NYC,NY) Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN), Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Gallery (NYC, NY), and 21C Museum Hotel (Louisville, KY). Her work has been exhibited internationally in France, Greece, Finland, Croatia, and beyond. Christensen is the author of Big Box Reuse, published by MIT Press in 2008. Big Box Reuse reached critical acclaim, with reviews and features in publications such as The New York Times, New York Magazine, Bookforum, The New York Review of Books, and The Washington Post. Her writing has appeared in such publications as Print, Architect, and Cabinet magazines. Christensen recently received a Creative Capital grant (Emerging Fields, 2013), MacDowell Fellowship (2015), and Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award (2015); she has been an artist-in-residence at the MacDowell Colony, Wexner Center for the Arts, and the Experimental Television Center. Christensen is Associate Professor of Integrated Media in the Studio Art Department at Oberlin College.