5 questions to investigate with my thesis

  1. What are the chemicals and materials used in our electronic products and how are they sourced? What is the full process of obtaining all the materials used in our electronic devices?
  2. Where do our electronic products go when we dispose of them and how are they disposed of? 
  3. What are the human health, socio-political, and environmental consequences that arise from the making and discarding of an electronic item?
  4. How are governments, local organizations, communities and individuals dealing with the issue of e-waste currently and how can it be improved upon (if at all)?
  5. Obviously, society won’t be giving up our phones, laptops, and electronics, but what can we do on an individual and local level that can offset this increase in e-waste? 

3 possible venues for the work to be shown. Why?

  • Science or Natural History Museums (i.e. The Natural History Museum of LA, The Natural History Museum of NY, The Henry Ford Museum, Museum of Science and Industry)
    • I can see my project being very explanatory and fitting well with the playful yet informative spirit of science exhibit interactives. I intend to mix visuals, animations, code, fabrication, and physical computing together to create a “playful” approach towards the serious research.
  • LES Ecology Center
    • Jenny Odell displayed her “Bureau of Suspended Objects” during her artist residency at the Recology dump in San Francisco. Inspired by this project and approach, I think an approach could be to first get to know the community of LES Ecology Center. Then try to see their awareness/campaign/design needs. Hopefully this would be an extension of the LES Ecology Center’s mission and I could also ask them for their expert opinion. It’s also an excuse for me to be more involved in their community and ground my work with their cause.
  • Public Spaces/ Libraries/ Pop-ups in Different Locations (i.e. Gottesman Libraries at Teachers College Columbia University, James Gallery space at CUNY’s Center for Humanities Department)
    • It would be great to have my interactive be movable so that I can share the information with more people. I am thinking that entrances of libraries and school galleries with a humanitarian focus would work well for what I have in mind. The James Gallery at CUNY seem to promote dialogue, so it would be great to also create an event that allowed for discussion that focused on the topic of e-waste.
  • ALT: Website (as an alternative to the above)
    • All the content in this “exhibit interactive” could also be put into a website format. This way people who don’t have access to the physical form can still read the content/research.

3 experts or types of people to speak to about my thesis. Why?

  1. Kathryn Garcia, NYC Department of Sanitation Commissioner
    1. It would be amazing to have an interview with Kathryn to find out more about how e-waste is handled in the city. She would help me better understand the infrastructure that is setup in New York City to handle e-waste. 
  2. Natalie Jeremijenko, Associate Professor at NYU in the Visual Art Department + Artist + Engineer
    1. Another great recommendation by Margaret Smith. To put it broadly, her work uses technology as a way to inspire social and environmental change. She also teaches at NYU in the Visual Arts Department, so would hopefully be accessible to speak with. I am inspired by many of her pieces, specifically How Stuff is Made, Suicide Box, and her Fish Interface.  
  3. Christine Datz Romero, Co-founder and Executive Director of Lower East Side Ecology Center
    1. She is the co-founder and executive director of the Lower East Side Ecology Center. Christine has also been at the forefront of the Compost Collection Program and the Ecology Center’s innovative Electronics Waste Recycling program. Dr. Robin Nagle mentioned that I look into her work and the LES Ecology Center. Christine would be helpful to ask questions about how to both gain awareness and take action in a local way.
  4. Dr. Robin Nagle, Clinical professor of anthropology and environmental studies in New York University’s School of Liberal Studies
    1. She was previously an anthropologist-in-residence for NYC’s Department of Sanitation. Her research is focused on the relationship between trash and cities. As recommended by Margaret, I reached out to Robin about the subject of e-waste. She was extremely helpful in my research process and recommended me a few books and articles to read. I plan to maintain my communication with her. 
  5. ITP Professors to be in constant communication with: Tom Igoe and Marina Zurkow as our in-house sustainability + ecology gurus; Shawn Van Every as tech expert as my end product will most likely involve web development; Genevieve Hoffman as data visualization guide