I had the pleasure of interviewing media artist Julia Christensen about her poignant project Burnouts, in which she turns discarded iPhones and other trashed technologies into functional projectors. Using her homemade projectors, she beams animations of obsolete constellations onto the ceiling – interestingly, these constellations have been removed from maps of the night sky because they can no longer be viewed from earth, in large part due to light polution from electronic technologies.
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Real change sounds great, but as a culture, this endless cycle of “out with the old, in with the new” has become the norm for technology consumption. What can people or companies do to start changing this process?
Over and over again, this project makes clear to me that we need to be shifting the questions we’re asking about e-waste. The question should not be, “What’s the best way for me to throw away my phone/computer?” It should be, “How can we design a phone/computer that we don’t have to throw away?” Sustainability begins with design, so it’s time for designers to take the lead on this. How can we design sustainable devices? How can we strategize for future repurposing when we first build the devices, or create secondary markets that can transform our obsolete technologies into something with a new purpose once the first use is finished? Why not build a phone that turns into a water filter or a solar panel when it’s no longer useful as a phone? We need to think creatively. The Earth is a finite resource, and we can’t throw this stuff away forever. So for my next upgrade, I want a phone I can eat when I’m done with it.
Julia’s work is important now more than ever, as the world’s e-waste problem continues to balloon, leaving huge heaps of trash in dumps on the other side of the world. Julia’s responses are great, and I hope you’ll read the full article on The Creators Project: