THE BREAST MILK OF THE VOLCANO 
Handmade Lithium battery and film bu Unknown Fields
Unknown Fields travel through the energy landscapes of the Bolivian Salt Lakes and the Atacama Desert to see where the city stores its electricity. Here the ground is charged with potential, for buried beneath the mirror of the world’s largest salt flat, the Salar De Uyuni, is a grey gold called lithium, the key ingredient in batteries, a substance in every one of our pockets, in every gleaming device, and every electric car. With their flock of camera drones Unknown Fields have captured the technicolor lithium mine evaporation pools as they stretch across the ancient salt flats. This grey rush territory is also a landscape of Incan mythology and sacred mountains, where a traditional indigenous narrative describes this shimmering white expanse being created from the mixing of the tears and breast milk of a weeping mother volcano who has just lost her lover.
From this landscape, Unknown Fields have crafted a new glass battery, one that harnesses this mythic love story to trickle charge our phones. While the world does its best to ignore that technology is forged from the earth, with marketing campaigns of ephemeral clouds and the relentless push for the smallest and lightest, this object embodies the story of the landscape in which it was made. A mass of alternating aluminium and graphite – anode and cathode — submerged in a lithium brine electrolyte collected from Bolivia’s electric Salar de Uyuni creates a slow reaction, the drip charge of a crying mountain. The creation myth of this landscape is told again and again as the electrons flow. We power our technologies from the tears and breastmilk of sacred volcanoes.
Drones supported by
Unknown Fields in collaboration with the Architectural Association