Making and Breaking: Electronic Waste Recycling as Methodology

Ploeger, Daniel (2017) Making and Breaking: Electronic Waste Recycling as Methodology. In: Digital Bodies: Creativity and Technology in the Arts and Humanities. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 49-64. ISBN 9781349952403


This chapter proposes a practice-based methodology to investigate the materiality of electronic waste (e-waste), which formed the basis of the art-science research project ‘Bodies of Planned Obsolescence: digital performance and the global politics of electronic waste’. Building on anthropologist Tim Ingold’s concept of ‘making’, a widened understanding of the term ‘digital performance’ informed shared practical activities of a group of scientists, cultural theorists, and artists. During two field-research workshops in Hong Kong and Lagos, Nigeria, researchers participated in e-waste recycling in a factory and on a dump site. Thus, in this approach to practice-based research, the practical aspect of the research process does not concern the production of artworks, but instead involves shared participation in labour with materials. A process of shared reflection on this practical work may lead to outcomes in the form of new research avenues within the various disciplines of the participating researchers.


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