The N’Djili district of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo is home to an enormous market of scrap auto-parts, carefully salvaged from Japan's waste-stream and meticulously arrayed on blankets by merchants eking out a marginal existence. Read the rest
Silicon Valley's legendary housing crisis -- now several decades old -- has led to the establishment of semi-permanent homeless camps on public lands, including a notable camp on the banks of Coyote Creek, on Santa Clara County Water District land. Read the rest
You can't walk up to the Treasures in the Trash collection in the New York City Sanitation Department's east Harlem warehouse, but if you're lucky enough to get an in, you'll find retired sanitation worker Nelson Molina's meticulously organized displays of the wonders he rescued from the landfill. Read the rest
Dutch designer Etienne Reijnders rescues discarded shopping trolleys made by Wanzl, purveyor of the world's largest trolleys, and remakes them into beautiful, minimalist pieces of mid-century-modern-inflected furniture. Read the rest
Noah Sachs uses the years-long Bangalore garbage crisis to ask some pointed questions about America's secretive waste-disposal industry, which treats the treatment of American waste as a military-grade secret, protected by barbed wire and vicious lawyers.
Bangalore's drowning in rubbish, it's contaminating the water and poisoning the Earth, tens of thousands labor in filthy, unsafe conditions to sort and recover it -- and the average Bangalorean is only generating about one pound of trash per day. Americans throw away seven times that amount, and the fact that it's whisked away doesn't mean it's not a problem. In Sachs's view, the Bangalore situation just makes visible the lurking consequences of America's own profligacy. Read the rest
You may have heard about the 8m-tall, abandoned metal statue of Marilyn Monroe that is quietly resting in a Chinese scrapheap after a brief tenure in front of a mall in Guigang, China. But as Jillian Steinhauer points out, the weird juxtaposition of Giant Metal Marilyn amid the garbage is only the tip of the weird -- far stranger are the possible connections to the another, American metal Marilyn, who currently lives at the New Jersey sculpture park Grounds for Sculpture. Read the rest
Here's gallery of skeletons and skulls made from melted-down cassette tapes by Brian Dettmer. Memento mori for a dead medium.
NoDeg sez, "Here's a video of children who live in a slum in Paraguay playing instruments made from recycled material." They call themselves the Landfillharmonic Orchestra. Their story is sweet and inspiring, and the instruments -- and the music they make -- are absolutely gorgeous. They successfully funded a Kickstarter to expand this into a full-length documentary, too.
Jud Turner sez, "My latest piece is a life-sized Columbia Mammoth skeleton made from 95% recycled material, mostly old farm equipment. It was created as a commission for Pacific Studio, and will be permanently displayed at the new Moses Lake Museum and Art Center, which is in Washington state. In 1950, a farmer found parts of a Columbia mammoth while digging an irrigation ditch, so this sculpture ties those two elements together. Part of the challenge in building it in my studio in Eugene, OR was that I had to make it in a way that it could be taken apart, and re-assembled without any additional welding. Just taking it down was one of the scariest operations I've ever undertaken in the studio (over a ton of sharp, rusty steel 15 feet in the air had to be lowered with manual genie-lifts.)"
Travelina sez, "It's not your typical glamour cruise, but it's not cheap either. You travel aboard a 72-foot sailing yacht from the Marshall Islands through the great ocean vortex called the Western Pacific Gyre to Tokyo, and then from Tokyo you follow the path of the Japan tsunami debris with the purpose of sampling it, ending up in Hawaii 32 days later."
The samples they collect during several transects of the field will be used to determine and refine existing models of how fast the material is moving, how quickly it is decomposing, and the nature of the material's colonization by marine animals. Past trips to study marine debris with these organizations have attracted everyone from independent scientists to film crews and artists.
Findings gleaned from the tsunami debris are particularly significant because, unlike concentrated marine pollution elsewhere, the tsunami material's "launch" date and place of origin are known. With this information, researchers can better understand how land-based materials like plastics behave in the ocean.
One of the participants, Valerie Lecoeur, 41 of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, said she hopes to see where plastic accumulates in the ocean firsthand.
"For me it's interesting to see that there is debris from the ocean coming from events like tsunami—things that you can't control—and things that you can control as well."
(Thanks, Travelina!) Read the rest