Electronic waste is a fast-growing waste stream. Photographer Ben Von Wong set himself on a mission to make people become more aware of it – using his art. He gathered 4,100 pounds of electronic waste and built sets for an incredible series of portraits to raise awareness of this growing issue.
The data from 2010 show that every day, 142,000 computers are thrown away in the US only. Today, this number is even higher. For his project, Ben reached out to Dell after learning that they had the world’s largest global recycling program. In collaboration with Dell and Wistron GreenTech, Ben gathered the incredible 4,100 pounds of e-waste for the photo shoot. Why that much? Because it’s an approximate amount of e-waste an American would use over a lifetime. That’s quite a lot, isn’t it?
Ben learned that one of the biggest challenges for Dell was getting more people to recycle. So through this project, he wanted to show that recycling e-waste can be cool and that old electronics had the potential to power future devices. These were the starting points for sketching his ideas.
After they got the e-waste, 50 volunteers gathered to help Ben and his team sort through all the materials they borrowed. It took ten days of working for over ten hours a day, including weekends and nights. But I believe everyone involved thought what I did when they saw the resulting photos: it was worth it!
As Ben writes, time and budget were limited. So, their master-builder David Jeter decided to use forced perspective to make the structures look longer and deeper than they actually were. Ben shares a photo from the side, which shows the actual size of the construction.
Lots of stuff on the set were improvised or made using cheap and DIY approach. Patterns on the ground were made using chalk, rope and a yardstick. The lighting was improvised with the lights Ben and the volunteers brought along. The team used a staple gun to build a wall of peripherals – mice, adapters, and wires. A leaf blower from Home Depot was used as a fan. And the results were fantastic!
After ten days of hard work, plus over eight hours for makeup and body painting, here are the final photos:
According to Ben, it only took four hours to clean up ten days of hard work. But he hopes that the photos will live forever and inspire people to recycle e-waste. So, spread the word and get involved!
Ben Von Wong is known for the projects that tackle some of the society’s issues. He has also made a fantastic project from trash before, using recyclable plastic bottles. If you’d like to learn more about the e-waste project, make sure to visit Ben’s blog.