Bodies of Planned Obsolescence

About this event

Digital performance and the global politics of electronic waste*
Public event and opening, FREE: Saturday 4 July, 2-6pm (ongoing programme, drop-in at any time)
Exhibition continues: 5 – 24 July
Bodies of Planned Obsolescence is an art-science research project that engages with the global economy of discarded electronics. Old computers and other electronic appliances from countries in the West, including the UK, are often exported to West-Africa and China. As part of the project, an international group of artists, cultural theorists and scientists followed this global stream of waste to Nigeria, Hong Kong, and the UK, and took part in e-waste recycling labour on dumps and in factories in these places.
In the public event at Watermans on Saturday 4 July, and the following exhibition, the participants share their experiences from these journeys, as well as present their artwork and research developed during the project. The programme  on 4 July will be repeated on an ongoing basis so visitors can drop in any time.

In a journey filled with piles of all sorts of electronic materials and devices, from old flat screen TVs to computers and household appliances; keyboards and other plastic shells; CDs, DVDs and their boxes; cables and other peripherals, the research group spent a few (adventurous!) days working at an e-waste dump site connected to the Alaba market in Lagos, an enormous market in the western outskirts of Lagos which includes one of the biggest used electronics trading sites in Nigeria. Following Lagos, the group travelled to Hong Kong, where they participated in electronic waste recycling labour, dismantling computers and monitors, but where they also explored the consumer world and trade at used and new electronics markets.

Bodies of Planned Obsolescence forms a platform for artists and academics, but also looks to open public debate and discussions around the problematics of e-waste. During the last part of their research, the group will spend a week working together at Watermans and exploring e-waste recycling sites around London.

‘Bodies of Planned Obsolescence’ is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London.

*’Electronic waste’ or ‘e-waste’ is a generic term to describe old or discarded electric and electronic equipment that have ceased to be of value to their owners.

Project participants:
– Dr Daniël Ploeger, Principal Investigator. Performance Artist, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London.
– Dr Janet Chan, Co-Investigator. Toxicologist, Hong Kong University.
– Jelili Atiku. Performance artist, Lagos State Polytechnic, Nigeria.
– Shu Lea Cheang. New media artist, Filmmaker, USA/France.
– Dr Neil Maycroft Cultural theorist, University of Lincoln, UK.
– Kehinde Olubanjo, environmental scientist, Lagos, Nigeria
– Irini Papadimitriou, Digital Programmes Manager, Learning Dept, V&A and Head of New Media Arts Development, Watermans
– Dr Chris Williams, Institute of Education/UoL, Lecturer, InternationalStudies,
– Hannah Millest. Project Coordinator, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London.
– The late Peter Dammann. Photographer, Agentur Fokus, Bern, Switzerland.

V&A Digital Futures Event

Thursday 2 July // 5.30-8.30pm
The White Building, Hackney
This public event will include presentations, talks and a group discussion about the project.

Guest speakers:
Dr Jennifer Gabrys (Goldsmiths University of London), Carlo Inverardi Ferri (University of Oxford), Dr Federico Magalini (United Nations University), The Restart Project.
FREE, booking required:

Book Your Tickets


Click here to find full details for those with access requirements.

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