Scenario of an example concept:
(definitely subject to change)
Different electronic products (i.e. smartphone, laptop, blow dryer) will be taken apart. Their components (i.e. lcd screen, battery, etc) will be placed in petri dishes and organized next to a diagram that will show where each piece originally belonged. The idea is that people will be able to examine each electronic component more closely by placing it under a microscope. At first, the information shown will be focused on the material science of the element. Then the information will “zoom out” to show the socio-political, environmental, health issues associated with mining that element/material. The website/screen will also show where these electronics most likely end up when disposed and the health and environmental hazards at risk when the electronics are broken down.
The microscope is used here as a symbol of looking closer at something. While microscopes are often used in nature or science labs, they are not commonly used to examine objects that we use on a day to day basis. My intention is to set up a scene that allows people to have a closer look at the birth, life and death of an electronic product and see the invisible forces that make it what it is.
Steps of the scenario:
- Person approaches a table or display that has all the electronic components taken apart and organized based on the product it belongs to.
- Person can take one of the components, which are each put into a petri dish, to the microscope station. With the microscope people can take a closer look at each component.
- When a component is under the microscope, the large screen will display facts about the life-cycle of the piece. Facts will include:
- the function that the piece provides
- the raw materials/elements that are used in the component
- where those materials/elements are sourced in the world
- the environmental, socio-political, and health hazard involved with mining that material
- the process of turning those materials into a usable piece, the labor involved
- where the piece ends up when we dispose of it
- the health and environmental impacts when they are disposed of and taken apart by people
- After examining that component, a person can choose another one to examine under the microscope
- A question that was asked in a thesis questionnaire was: “How does the project improve what already exists?” I really don’t know if it does? I really don’t know if a setup like this exists and whether it would be beneficial to anyone but myself. But how can this concept be better and give justice to the research and content?
- The topic of e-waste is very wide and deep. I’m wondering if I should cast a wide but shallow net or if I should go deep on a small slice? How would I go deep on a small portion? Do I focus in on just one product?
- I think it is important for me to properly explain and visualize the source and disposal of different products first. But perhaps there is a way to do a second piece that is more speculative and active? Maybe that project can be focused on alternative methods of living with electronics/ how we can better improve the situation of e-waste given the current circumstances?