MONUMENT OF SILICON VALLEY
submission entry for electronic waste design challenge
2019, NATIONAL GALLERY OF VICTORIA E-WASTE DESIGN CHALLENGE
RISE OF ELECTRONIC WASTE
PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE & ELECTRONIC WALLED GARDEN
Silicon Valley has successfully manipulated us to buy undurable and fragile hardware so we have to buy new iterations of electronic devices every year. Led primarily by Apple, we have been told that we should not tinker or repair our electronic devices, and hardware is specifically designed to be difficult to repair. Silicon Valley has always been struggling to find material aesthetics of their identity. Examples are;
Skeuomorphism; digital aesthetics that mimic real-life counterparts such as faux leather notebook and faux timber background. Minimalism; the race for thinness and a cop-out in regards to functionality of number of ports and battery sizes.
AESTHETICS OF ELECTRONIC ARTIFACTS
However, there is beauty in the richness and complexity of electronic artifacts. Why call them electronic waste when they are electronic artifacts; they are objects of our technological past. Wall-e, circuit boards, antique electronics, Blade Runner, control panels, appliances junkyard. Such electronic artifacts are aesthetic manifestations of the digital revolution and should be embraced as such.
MONUMENT OF SILICON VALLEY
The proposal is to build the Monument of Silicon Valley, an installation that manifests upon the aesthetics of different electronic artifacts. To impress the public beyond planned obsolescence and walled gardens spouted by electronic companies and embrace right of repair, open source hardware and precipitate the tinkering mind.
Vines of Cables: Like weeping trees and vines, obsolete cables hang from the ceiling as one journeys through the passageway. We question the numerous types of the cables and plead the manufacturers to work together to standardise their interfaces.
Main Frame: Legacy of material aesthetic of the digital age, with its ventilation holes and modularity. Why can’t this be the utilised as cladding for electronic companies rather than the faux wood wall panels. The universality and beauty of the Philips head screw, synonymous to the tinkering approach, to repair rather than replace, and to adjust whenever necessary. Adjustable and modular steel frames allowing flexibility of space configuration. These industrial and archival aesthetics should be embraced.
Array of Batteries: Contained by a mesh, the variety of batteries and their predisposition create patterns of shadow and light.
Fruit Tree of Mobile Phones: Like an apple tree, these obsolete mobile phones dangle from the top by their charging cables, spinning by themselves wondering why a computer company name themselves after a fruit.
Catacomb of Appliances: A cemetery of appliances where we can pay our final respects to our humble electric servants. Go inside the tower memorial and look up,where their electric souls rose to the heavens above.
TV Room: Huxleyan aside, don’t we get fascinated by walls of televisions that are turned on at the same time? Wouldn’t it be more fascinating if this is a room fully surrounded by televisions?
Electronic artifacts not electronic waste. This is an appreciation of the material aesthetics of the digital age. Why pursue skeuomorphism of faux timber and leather, of glossy white and glass when there is such a rich aesthetics legacy to continue to build upon. Make repurposing electronics as exciting as reviving a vintage car, a trip to the yard as interesting as going to the antique shop. Disband the planned obsolescence and the walled garden, and allow and encourage tinkering and repair. Embrace the beauty of electronic artifacts so the headquarters of digital revolutionaries of Silicon Valley are clad with these past memory fragments and to be proud of their heritage. And in turn be aware of what they leave behind.