T(t)erraforming: Alkaline Experiments #1, 2018, Raphaëlle Mueller & Vanessa Lorenzo for BNP Paribas Award. Photo ©Raphaëlle Mueller
Keywords
#Capitalocene #Ecocide #Technocide #Chemicals #Pollution #Hazard #Dissolution #Transmutation #Reverse #Process #Junk #Aluminium #Electronics #Molecular #Matter #Nonhuman #Agency #Extremophile #Alien #Ecosystem  #Resistance #Post-digital #Post-media #Transdisciplinar #Opensource #DIY #Openscience

Description
Our work engages a mining perspective to digital culture, bringing in a way to acknowledge the residue when value set by the market is extracted and the after-effects of industrialisation that left behind polluted and sterile ecosystems. In addition, it seeks to reverse this process to rethink residual matter or junk electronics while speculating with the new materiality of the Capitalocene.
For instance, due to the massive extraction and refining of aluminium, some soils are too alkaline for any form of life, mimicking extra-terrestrial extreme environments. This hostile reality requires new modes of re-thinking both art and science to find alternative ways to acknowledge its consequences.
The installation reproduces the same conditions of aluminium wastelands in a laboratory-sized installation. We aim to enable the observer a real-time deconstruction (or reversed production process) of a popular icon of technoculture: a MacBook Pro laptop from 2007 mainly built using aluminium.
This experiment seeks to understand the transmutative / destructive properties of sodium hydroxide, applied to the aluminium in order  to give back to Earth the molecules of the junk object of our creation tools. This implies the ‘sacrifice’ of our creation tools  by a kind of ‘alchemical process’ in a technocide that leads us to the formation of a new matter.
In this installation, the alkaline basin dissolves the laptop, changing it at a molecular level into a previous chemical state while producing a combustible gas. The whole deconstruction process is recorded  by a camera that documents the technological ‘murder’ until it reaches a mineral state. Once the dissolution is done, an additional chemical is going to be added to neutralise the liquid milieu while potentially forming new minerals: berlinite and variscite, a sort of assemblage of aluminium, sodium and phosphates. This protocol culminates with new matter out of technological junk. In the process are generated combustible gas (hydrogen) and a synthetic fertilizer (the blamed sodium phosphate and water) that is in charge of a popular effect of algae blooming that will be used to toughen cyanobacteria Spirulina Paracas, an extremophile capable to adapt, inhabit, colonise and/or revitalise the most hardcore alkaline lands on T(t)erra.

Bios
Raphaëlle Mueller and Vanessa Lorenzo are collaborating since 2016. They are both artists and researchers, working at the intersection of open science, art and media. Their aim is to operate — in a critical way — the linking between the scientific and non-scientific worlds, especially in the frame of environmental crimes, through an artistic practice and alternative tools. In regards to their researches, they are looking for new types of growth in the actual biotope of toxic ruined post-capitalist landscapes. Their exploratory methodologies indicate multilateral dialogues by questioning hidden and speculative relations between ecology, politics and the human. In conversation and collaboration with scientists and biohackers, they aim to expand speculative narrative as well as developing open protocols and DIY tools.
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