The point of departure for the work GoldRush is the relationship between geology of planet Earth and electronic devices. In it, the artist wishes to focus on the materiality of digital media, especially that of personal computers. In the epoch of the Anthropocene and in our post-industrial society there is an abundance of discarded and (purposely) obsolescent personal computers, which, after a period of usefulness, end up in recycling depots or landfills. They are often also transported to poorer countries, where they constitute an ecological problem. What is more, the Earth’s resources are exploited for making consumer electronics components. The artist, therefore, wonders just how soft digital media really is, and how much it is based on hard, palpable, Earth-derived resources, obtained through mining.
GoldRush focuses on the presence of gold in personal computer components (central processors, working memories, graphic cards, modems and connectors). Gold is a natural metal, a status symbol and an object of materialist craving. This work suggests an alchemical activity – the extraction of this valuable metal from electronic waste that was once also a status symbol. Computer parts are dissolved by nitric acid or a combination of hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide, and the gold is purified by aqua regia, a metal solvent used by alchemists as early as the 8th century, which is a mixture consisting of one part concentrated nitric acid and three parts concentrated hydrochloric acid. The whole process is sonified – the raw sound used in the composition is created by treating contact (piezo) microphones and DIY microphones with acids and by recording the sound of the chemical reactions during the process of treatment of electronics and solution of gold. The changes in temperature of the solutions during chemical reactions are recorded by thermal sensors and serve as input information for the modulation of the sound composition that fills this dystopian laboratory. Substances change, from waste comes gold, and from that process, sound.
Chemical assistance: Darko Vušak, mag.chem; Vedran Vulić, prof.
Sound design collaborator: Miodrag Gladović
Graphic design: Andro Giunio
Support: Marijan Sutlović, Hrvoje Spudić, Sara Salamon, Branimir Štivić, M28
Contributors: Faculty of Agriculture University of Zagreb, Academy of Fine Arts University of Zagreb, Čistoća Velika Gorica, Teuta Gatolin, Talal Abedrabbo, Karla Patalen, Ana-Marija Petričević, Dražen Klokočki, Ante Medić, Ivan Rogoz, Petar Pečur, Nina Kunek, IN2 d.o.o., Zagreb City Libraries.
Thank you Vladimir Prelog Science School for the given space resources.
The production of the artwork is supported by Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia.