Author Archive

trash interfacing

just wanted to comment on a topic that was covered in class today by the street waste group- i just found the example of the bigbelly compactors completely fascinating. Much of how we deal and approach waste has to do with the ways in which we interface with it- and the big belly pull down drawer was such a good example of that, much like how we interface with toilets and the idea of sewage washing away waste from our homes



photographic reflection on mass e-waste

by lara

Upon seeing posts on e-waste, I remembered this project I had heard of awhile ago by an artist named Chris Jordan- although it doesn’t delve very deep into the societal implications of e-waste, it is a nice photographic reflection on the sheer volume of materiality e-waste takes up.×64

daily use of plastics

by lara

I’ve been trying to gradually replace small plastic things i own with non-plastics (glass tupperware as opposed to plastic, aluminum water bottles as opposed to plastic) Still, plastics seem to pop up in almost every space of my daily existence.

yesterday my interactions w plastics were as follows:

-woke up to my alarm on my cell phone (1 min 2 years total)

– plastc brush to wash dishes (1 year), soap container to pour soap (1 month?)

– metro card (1 month)

– used student id to get into school (2 years?)

– used computers (?)

– plastic container for sandwich (half hour)

– plastic bag at grocery store (half hour)

and this isn’t even counting all the stuff i have around me on a day to day basis! (plastics in furniture, shampoo bottles, soap holders, etc etc.)

paper as a temporary marker of time

by lara

Whenever I decide to finally clear out peripheral material that has accumulated in my living space, I find what ends up in the de-clutter bin is usually buckets and buckets of paper. Notes I’ve written to myself, scraps of paper with reminders, mail from the bank, enveloped that mail has come in, old schedules, pamphlets, event cards that no longer hold any relevance to my life- usually markers of time that has already passed. I decided to clear out some accumulated clutter this weekend and it was entirely paper.

It included:

a letter from northwestern, old bank envelopes, reciepts i no longer needed, a note from my aunt, some old notes, a absentee ballot that i forgot about (oops), an envelope that contained my jury summons, my schedule and from last semester, an event card for some event called film por vida, etc etc etc.

what’s usually surprising especially in the case of mail is that it’s usually stuff ive held onto but never looked it, things for stuff I’ve never attended, stuff i completely forgot about until the physical pile it creates is too big to ignore. “cleaning my room” is usually a purging of paper- stuff that has lost its timelines- stuff that would have held temporary significance at one point and is no longer relevant.


spatiality of e-waste?

by lara

A quick note on a couple of the readings and e-waste. As I was reading these I couldn’t stop thinking about the tie between e-waste and our sense of space. It seems that the proliferation of digital information is the first time in our existence as humans that we our sense of space is completely abstracted from the information we process and have access to.

As Tim Jordan stated, one of the layers we approach the digital sphere (and usually the initial state that approach it) is individually, physically and spatially. As our bodies are abstracted from information, and the contexts it comes from, so are we abstracted from having any sense of how we physically relate to the digital waste we produce. It even seems that the fact that digital information increases ten fold every five years is difficult to relate too because while we can get our heads around what 20,000 tons of garbage looks like, in a sense of physicality what does an exabyte represent?

It seems that one of the difficulties for most in even confronting the issue of digital waste is the fact that for the most part people have no idea what sort of space the digital sphere takes up. We have what is in front of out faces, but not where it goes once it leaves our screens or what becomes of it later- dead links, dead sites, etc? One of our readings mentioned Italo Calvino’s take of the ever expanding barriers of garbage. Only problem is we have no conception of what form those barriers take in the e-sphere.

A “Confluence of the Homeless” on Ohio Riverbanks

by Lara

I wanted to add to my last post on slums in warmer climates by adding that informal communities exist in all climates, but I feel the way they manifest themselves in different way. Slums in tropical climates (at least form my experience) seem overwhelmingly massive, pushed to the fringes of urban settlements but in a very inclusive manner. At least in Barranquilla, the massive informal settlements engulf surrounding areas but are generally accepted a a part of the city, albeit a poor area of the city.

Columbus, Ohio may be a temperate climate, but that doesn’t mean shantytowns do not exist. A few years ago, there was a major uprising when the city decided to shut down one of the largest informal settlements, mostly of homeless people that existed on the banks of the Olentangy River, literally in the hub of the city, and close to downtown. Most people had no idea this even existed because a highway passed next to most of the river, and the community was by and large mostly hidden from the public.

Shantytowns and othe informal settlements seem to exists with a pretty high frequency in the area of appalachia as well, but unlike their neighbors to the south, these seem to be pretty socially marginalized.

Slums and Warm Climates

By lara

My mother is from Colombia, South America so visiting my family every few years I was always familiar of the concept of tropical urban slums which often seemed like miles and miles of garbage, even Barranquilla’s “slum town” which stretched from the inner suburbs out to the airport seemed walled off from the rest of the world by walls of people’s refuse. The idea of the “slum” or the “sprawling shantytown” was something I had never encountered in the states, and is still a pattern of settlement that I sometimes feel seems exist in a unique way to countries with warmer climates, on that scale of horizontal sprawl. The geological implictions of this are interesting- building makeshift housing may be easier when there is not the issue of cold, as there is less need to be inside or to build material heavy structures for protection against the cold, but heavy rains, and spread of disease are more damaging in warmer and tropical climates which adds to the continuous rebuilding and restructuring of slum neighborhoods.

Not to over simplify the issue of urban sprawl and the settlement of urban slums which have been heavily studied and are an incredibly complicated mix of socio, economic, cultural, and geographic factors. It just always seemed to me interesting the way poverty and lack of resource spreads differently across climates.