October 31, 2021

How Long Can We Keep Buying More at the Expense of Others?

Kialy Tihngang

Textiles, Sculpture, Photography, VideoUseless Machines, 2021

‘Useless Machines’ is a darkly humorous response to the pressing environmental and neocolonialist concern of electronic waste dumping in Ghana. The 2020 Black Lives Matter resurgence led me to researching less publicised ways in which black people’s lives are still affected by racism. I came across electronic waste dumping, where old phones, laptops, and industrial waste from the global north are illegally dumped in countries in the global south – increasingly in Ghana. The unexpected combinations of colours, textures and shapes found within e-waste informed my project. It ended up taking visual cues from the garish and ugly innards of discarded laptops that contrast so greatly with the sleek designs of their outer shells. As a comment on the increasing disposability of consumer electronics, which are so often discarded at the first sign of their perceived end of life, I created a collection of objects that mimic the aesthetics of e-waste and mock the movements of machinery. With a focus on combining clashing materials with robotic movements, the ‘machines’ are utterly useless, but unlike the abandoned electronics that inspired them, they will be kept forever.