As old computer monitors – and harddrives, and printers, and scanners, and modems – continue to pile up in the cities and villages of the 3rd world, we’re faced with a kind of mass geological displacement, or literal new mountain ranges of obsolete technology: all those minerals, the circuits and wires, forming new mines left open on the earth, leaching into groundwater, infiltrating bodies, forming cancers, going to waste.
A kind of monitor mine.
[Image: The Basel Action Network/New York Times].
In Perdido Street Station, by China Miéville, our erstwhile hero finds himself hiding out for some reason in a huge scrapyard full of refrigerators and harddrives and household waste and home appliances, and – yes – the whole thing just wakes up, anatomically rearranges itself – and mobilizes, artificially intelligent.
As if this could suggest that one day we might find deserts all over the world – their huge, moving dunes of loose silicon, in strange magnetic union with belts of metal in the earth’s surface – have somehow programmed themselves, a planetary harddrive communicating through landfills overflowing with old computers, discarded wireless modems, mountains of digital rubbish piled in rings around African villages.
And it’s not landscape tectonics but a new form of life…
(Perhaps a novel coming soon – from BLDGBLOG).