Everywhere: Life in a littered world

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Kai Löffelbein

CTRL-X

Kai Löffelbein’s exploration of the Chinese city of Guiyo documents the international transportation and re-processing of so-called ‘e-waste’, the computers, tablets, mobile phones, old screens and monitors discarded as unwanted or now defunct. The volume of such waste is increasing now that product life-cycles are shortened with relentless development and marketing: the average mobile phone is now used for less than 18 months. Rather than being recycled in Europe and the USA, e-waste is shipped abroad, described as ‘second-hand goods’ in order to circumvent the Basel Convention which prohibits hazardous waste being moved off-shore. Titled Ctrl-X after the shortcut familiar to keyboard users, which allows the seamless cutting and pasting of digital materials from one place to another, Löffelbein’s study makes clear the global reach of this traffic and reveals the persistent materiality of the goods we once cherished but have now put aside.