2018 — 2020: e-Waste Peep Show, a research-creation project

> e-waste
> media infrastructure
> global technocapital circuit
> sustainability

The research-creation project e-Waste Peep Show; or, on Seeing and not Wanting to be Seen (EWPS) is an art installation on e-waste (electronic waste).

Behind a metal sheet wall, EWPS plays my video footage of an e-waste plant in Northern Hong Kong through a peephole in its walls. My camera captures a masked woman taking apart mounds of technological trash. Suddenly, she throws technological debris at me: don’t look at me; don’t film here.

In talks on this project and a forthcoming book chapter, I describe the process of constructing the installation such that spectators can experience the act of peeping onto sites and sights that they are not “supposed” to see. EWPS is re-built for every new installation site, using e-waste that is local to that geography and community.

Three considerations come together to produce the research-creation project: first, I research the toxicity of e-waste and the exploitation of e-waste labourers, with a focus on East, Southeast, and South Asia; second, I describe the fieldwork that I completed in December 2017 to collect video footage at an e-waste plant in Hong Kong; third, I detail the creation process of the installation and the intended experience for the spectator-as-user. In doing so, this project aligns creative methods in sustainable research with an ethical intervention into global technological consumerism.


OUTPUT

Book chapter: Fan, Lai-Tze. “e-Waste Peep Show: A Research-Creation Project on the (In)visibility of Technological Waste.” Right Research: Modelling Sustainable Research Practices in the Anthropocene, edited by Geoffrey Rockwell, Chelsea Miya, and Oliver Rossier, Open Book Publishers, 15 pp. Forthcoming.

Digital art installation: Fan, Lai-Tze. e-Waste Peep Show; or, on Seeing and Not Wanting to be Seen. Film. 2 min, colour, sound. Plywood, electronic waste, cardboard. Internet of Things “Tech Meets Art” Event, Waterloo, Canada. Solicited. 20 June 2019.

Digital art installation: Fan, Lai-Tze. e-Waste Peep Show: Infrastructures and Rituals of Trash. Film. 2 min, colour, sound. R-CADE (Rutgers-Camden Archive of Digital Ephemera) Symposium, Rutgers University, Camden campus, United States. 19 April 2019.

Digital art installation: Fan, Lai-Tze. e-Waste Peep Show; or, on Seeing and Not Wanting to be Seen. Film. 2 min, colour, sound. Plywood, electronic waste, cardboard. “Infrastructure at Play” Digital Art Exhibition, University of Waterloo and Communitech Hub, Canada. Solicited. 03 April 2019.

Digital art installation: Fan, Lai-Tze. e-Waste Peep Show; or, on Seeing and Not Wanting to be Seen. Film. 2 min, colour, sound. Metal, plastic, electronic waste, cardboard. 2018 multiple contingencies exhibition, OCAD, Canada. Meeting of the Society of Literature, Science, and the Arts. 15 – 18 Nov 2018.

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