ALL THAT IS SOLID (2014) HD 15'26"
This is a film that takes place.
In between a hard place,
a hard drive,
a soft space – the cloud that holds my data.
And in the soft grey matter,
Contained within the head.
As technological progress pushes forward in the overdeveloped world, enormous piles of obsolete computers are thrown away and recycled. Pushed out of sight and sent to the coast of West Africa these computers end up in waste grounds such as Agbogbloshie in Accra, Ghana. On arrival the e-waste is recuperated by young men, who break and burn the plastic casings in order to extract the precious metals contained within. Eventually the metals are sold, melted and reformed into new objects to be sold – it is a strange system of recycling, a kind of reverse neocolonial mining, whereby the African is searching for mineral resources in the materials of Europe. Through showing these heavy processes, the video highlights the importance of dispelling the capitalist myth of the immateriality of new technology to reveal the mineral weight with which the Cloud is grounded to its earthly origins.
EXTRACTS OF TEXT BY ALEXANDRE QUOI FOR SALON DE MONTROUGE 2014:
In 2013, Louis Henderson spent a month filming in Ghana, a former British colony in West Africa previously called the “Gold Coast”. He came back with videos of galamsey gold-mining and, near Accra, of Agbogbloshie - the world’s greatest waste site for illegally exported obsolete computers from the West. There, young men put their health at risk by burning the IT equipment to extract the precious metals contained in the processors. In other words “a strange system of recycling, a sort of reverse post-colonial mining whereby the African is searching for metals in the materials of Europe”, comments Louis Henderson who is intent on “demonstrating how important it is to do away with the capitalist myth claiming the immateriality of computer technology”.
All That is Solid, specifically made for the Salon de Montrouge, draws its title from a passage of Marx and Engels’ Manifesto of the Communist Party (1884) thus underlining the “materialist conception of history” as a tool to understand social and historical reality. The dispositif of the video operates as a mise en abyme exposing the artist’s computer desktop-cum-editing-table where the film is being edited before us. Layer after layer of video clips, emails, notes, photographs - taken off Google Images and other Internet pages, are selected; the files and windows are assembled while a text narrates the progression, guiding the spectator through the stratified data to finally produce a story. Henderson’s auto-analysis offers an unusual method of dissecting the actual production of the film, as well as being a critical commentary of the computer technology it requires that nowadays determines our perception of the world.