According to the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, we trash 142,000 computers and more than 416,000 mobile devices every day in the United States. Worldwide, the coalition estimates, some 50 million metric tons of so-called e-waste is generated annually.
That's a lot of stuff.
And no wonder.
E-gadgets become obsolete in a nanosecond these days. And because we're more focused on acquiring the next shiny toy, we're really not so concerned with the afterlife of dated devices.
Artist Leticia Bajuyo recognizes this. And in "Event Horizon," her sprawling installation on view at Women & Their Work through Aug. 30, she pays whimsical homage to the detritus left behind by our transient consumer habits.
Bajuyo's amassed thousands of discarded CDs and woven them together with white plastic cable ties to form two giant horns that face off from one another in the gallery.
The whimsical giant horns recall an old-fashioned ear trumpet or perhaps a Dr. Seuss-imagined instrument or a Victrola phonograph or a vortex or even a cornucopia. The horns spindle out in exaggerated lengths to narrow ends that then attach to theremins. (The theremins were played live during the exhibit's opening.)
Cleverly, Bajuyo weaves the CDs together, shiny sides facing out. You have to step behind the two-by-four aperture on which the horns hang to see the printed sides revealing all the discarded titles. (Bajuyo is an equal-opportunity user of used CDs: Idina Menzel, Johnny Cash, Pavarotti and an audio textbook on anesthesiology are among the thousands of titles.)
These horns are cynosures of tech nostalgia.
What use are CDs now that most of the music and information they hold is virtually transported, bought or sold? And could anything be as nostalgia-laden as the theremin, the electronic music instrument invented in the 1920s that, though it pre-saged the synthesizer, quickly fell into obsolescence?
Bajuyo's concept is an easy read. And arguably not so unique nor super deep. Nevertheless, the execution of "Event Horizon" does have a playful aspect to it. And given the self-seriousness of so many conceptual forays presented by emerging artists these days, playfulness is always welcome.
With its disco-like shimmer of shiny CDs and its unmistakable handmade craftiness, there's plenty of deliberate schmaltz and sentimentality swirling around "Event Horizon."
Contact Jeanne Claire van Ryzin at 445-3699