Electronic waste is a global problem, and if you look at the statistics, it’s a problem of staggering proportions. Hoping to raise awareness about this growing problem, American conceptual photographer Benjamin Von Wong created this series of cutting-edge images, using 4,100 pounds of electronic waste — the approximate amount of electronics that one American will go through in their lifetime. Watch Von Wong’s video explaining the concept behind the project, and how it was realized:
That’s a lot of e-waste, and Von Wong needed to find a way to procure such an amount. He explains his motivation for the project via his blog:
Unfortunately, e-waste doesn’t make for very interesting dinner conversation. I wanted to change that. All I needed was access to a lifetime of electronic waste.
After doing some research on e-waste recycling programs, Von Wong decided to partner up with electronics maker Dell, which apparently has the world’s largest global recycling program. The company takes a “closed loop” approach to recycling, by collecting old devices and recycling the gold and plastic contained within. Says Von Wong:
Although it may look like junk, parts like these old circuit boards can contain up to 800 times more gold than when it’s found in the ground. Yet, we’re throwing away these valuable pieces into landfills instead of giving them a second chance.
Von Wong and his team of 50 volunteers were given 4,100 pounds of e-waste by Dell, which was then carefully rearranged into these dynamic scenes using custom-built support structures (all the waste was returned back to Dell for recycling, after the shoot). In the images, the central figure seems to be at times hopelessly engulfed in an overwhelming amount of gadgetry — all thrown away after an arbitrary period of obsolescence. It’s a sobering thought.
Yet, on the flip side, there’s a positive note here: these gadgets in these photos are all now part of the recycling stream, which means that they will become something new and useful, rather than garbage clogging up landfills and polluting rivers. And that, at least, is the lesson here: that instead of seeing waste, we would do better to see future opportunity, and to take action by recycling our old electronics.
Read about the whole process of how these images got made over at Benjamin Von Wong.