“Consumer goods are meant to be used up and to disappear; the idea of temporariness and transitoriness is intrinsic to their very denomination as objects of consumption; consumer goods have memento mori written all over them, even if with an invisible ink.”
BIT ROT is a colloquial term used in the computerized information systems environment to indicate the gradual decaying of data kept on storage media or software over the duration of time. In this case, the concept is transposed from a virtual reality, made of bits and software, to a material one, made of real people, things and places.
The BIT ROT project follows the international movements of e-waste, providing evidence of illegal commerce and disposal, and tells the stories of those who are involved, but also underlines green and sustainable alternatives that have already been adopted in many countries.
Electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) is growing faster than any other type of waste. With an annual volume that is between 40 and 50 million metric tons, according to the UNEP (United Nation Environment Program), the growing amount of e-waste could grow exponentially, as much as 500 times over the coming decade, especially in countries like India, China and some African regions where the technology industry is growing fast.
It is hazardous waste, containing dozens of substances dangerous to human health and the environment; it is hard to be sustainably disposed of and a costly processing technique is necessary to make it recyclable. This is the reason why about 80% of the e-waste produced in developed countries (North America and Europe at the top of the list) is not disposed of in situ, but shipped, most of the time illegally, to developing countries, where it is illegally disposed of. The Basel Convention, adopted on 22 March 1989 and entered into force in 5 May 1992, lays down rules to control, at an international level, transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal, including electrical and electronic waste. However, it is not effective enough to fight the criminal organizations that gain great profit from moving the materials internationally.
This project focuses on the extreme consumerism of the society we live in. A society that keeps modern slaves hostage, forced to live and work in detrimental conditions, and that at same time, keeps itself hostage, always looking for innovative technological products to satisfy its own need to be fast and competitive. A society where the consumer does not recognize boredom and the culture avoids it. Where the moments of happiness are when we satisfy our impelling needs, careless of acknowledging that our choices have an impact on the life of those that have no choice.
Valentino Bellini (1984) is a freelance documentary photographer. After studying architecture and urbanism, he devoted himself to photography, working for a few years in a fine art printing lab and then freelancing and developing personal projects, which are focused on issues related to social phenomena and the effects they have on the environment. He is currently based between Palermo and Buenos Aires.