In her article, “Incendiary Devices: Imagining E-Waste Frontiers and Africa’s Digital Futures,” Treasa De Loughry focuses on different visual responses to e-waste in West Africa, from eco-documentary film and photography responses to the infamous Agbogbloshie e-waste yard in Ghana; to techno-utopian visions of e-waste bricoleurs, and e-waste as a signifier and artefact of the neocolonial nature of the capitalist world-ecology. The first half of this article focuses on Florian Weigensamer and Christian Krönes’ documentary film, Welcome to Sodom (2018), grounding it in critiques of the transmedial influence of the documentary form, while attending to the film’s pyrotechnical “optical regime” (Schoonover). The second half of the article moves from the archaic and exceptionalizing nature of Weigensamer and Krönes’ work to a consideration of futurist digital narratives of “rising Africa,” among them the periodic re-emergence of the post-SAP era (e-waste) bricoleur, contrasted with Francois Knoetze’s experimental visual art films Core Dump (2018-2019), and its richly historicized approach to the longue durée of African resource extraction. High-tech waste, as demonstrated by these examples, is a resource opportunity and toxic hazard, a result of rapid obsolescence, and a signifier of future resource depletion. It requires consideration not just of its “techno-fossil” materiality, but how it draws on key aspects of the transformation of the world-ecology, among them the neoliberal intensification of precarious labor, the expansion of specialized peripheral mega-dumps, and the recursive nature of waste’s value in an era of ecological scarcity. It is within this broader framework that this article seeks to place and interrogate contemporary e-waste depictions.
De Loughry, Treasa.
"Incendiary Devices: Imagining E-Waste Frontiers and Africa’s Digital Futures."
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