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I am the tantalum

Tweed, C (2013) I am the tantalum. In: Geologies of Value and Vestige Symposium, 10 July 2013, Centre for Useless Splendour, Kingston University, UK.

Abstract

Coltan is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo and from its ore the element Tantalum is extracted. This Tantalum is shipped to a factory in China where it then forms part of an assemblage of materials that are housed in a casing to form the battery of a mobile phone. This phone is sold by a phone operator in the USA and is purchased by a user who plugs it in and charges the battery which becomes enlivened. After one and a half years of use the owner perceives the phone to be too slow, out of date, lacking functionality and obsolescent. They discard it at a local phone recycling company and purchase a more up-to-date replacement, which they perceive to be faster, lighter and better. The old phone is then sent for recycling, it is added to a container which is loaded onto a ship containing many other types of e-waste and which is headed for Guiyu, in Guangdong Province, China which is perhaps the world’s largest site of e-waste ‘recycling’. Vital metals are extracted from the phone in haphazard recycling processes but the battery assemblage containing the Tantalum is of no value so this is simply buried in landfill where it now takes on a completely new deep geological time as its waste materials gradually break down, decade after decade until they finally return to their origin in the soil but this time as a form of dirty matter.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information:

This one-day symposium has been developed by Martin Westwood and Charlie Tweed. As a result of their ongoing research projects, two objects, an image and a text, are proposed for discussion. A selection of artists, curators and writers have been invited to respond to them through replies that can include both the generation of artworks and academic papers.

Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Q Science > QE Geology
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2016 11:11
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2016 13:28
URI: http://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/7276
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