Noud Sleumer is a conceptual designer whose work explores global systems of production and processing. His research focuses on the lifecycles of consumer electronic products, tracing the supply chains from resource to production and from points of sale to final processing.
With an emphasis on methods of deconstruction, Sleumer’s practice provides insights not just into our everyday objects, but the systems, infrastructures and people who support them too, with which Noud allows for new perspectives on the globe’s complex waste-industries.
• Noud Sleumer, Van Abbe Museum, Photo by Oscar Vinck
The Transboundary Loophole
Globally, we produce between 40 and 50 million tons of electronics waste each year. Commonly known as e-waste, only 20 percent of this rubbish is properly recycled or disposed of, with the remaining 80 percent becoming part of an illegal, transboundary trade. Dealers take advantage of a loophole in the definition of junk by labelling e-waste as second-hand goods, creating a grey area in which objects are exported as usable stock but are imported as refuse. Problematic detritus is removed from one country and discarded in another. E-waste dumps exist within a cycle of exploitation and pollution, but the import of e-waste also creates new industries and opportunities. This informal system produces tangible, evolving infrastructures of jobs, products and services. Using satellite images, Noud Sleumer creates an open atlas of independent E-waste sites. Site-specific narratives are represented by symbolic objects printed on a series of postcards, linking an illicit global market to its localised impacts. Combined, they depict a global network where abuse goes hand-in-glove with development, building a narrative of global urgency.