Unconsumption means the accomplishment of properly recycling your old cellphone, rather than the guilt of letting it sit in a drawer.
Unconsumption means the thrill of finding a new use for something that you were about to throw away.
Unconsumption means the pleasure of using a service like Freecycle (or Craigslist, Goodwill, or Salvation Army) to find a new home for the functioning DVD player you just replaced, rather than throwing it in the garbage.
Unconsumption means enjoying the things you own to the fullest – not just at the moment of acquisition.
Unconsumption means the pleasure of using a pair of sneakers until they are truly worn out – as opposed to the nagging feeling of defeat when they simply go out of style.
Unconsumption means feeling good about the simple act of turning off the lights when you leave the room.
Unconsumption is not about the rejection of things, or the demonization of things. It’s not a bunch of rules.
Unconsumption is an idea, a set of behaviors, a way of thinking about consumption itself from a new perspective.
Unconsumption is free.
Founder & Editor:Rob Walker, journalist, Savannah, GA
Editorial & Community Manager: Molly Block, marketing and business development geek, Houston, TX
combining old headphones with an electronic guitar, ‘guitar ear-o’ seeks to give industrial waste products their original purpose back. reusing industrial waste from valuable music instruments that are thrown away due to small defects, the items are turned into a set of new headphones. the guitar’s fingerboard is transformed into the connecting strap between the two speakers, and the covers for the speakers are made out of the guitar body with remnants of the gloss paint still left on them. based on modular pieces, the guitar ear-o is a new way for old instruments to live a life in a different shape, but with keeping the same function, to play music.
Due to our rapid advancement, seemingly new equipment, like fax machines, printers, an Apple IIe, [have been] rendered irrelevant, only a couple of years after their initial release.
Brother, the company responsible for some of this “innovation,” has found a creative use for this tech detritus by putting some of their old printers to work in “The Printer Orchestra” a cool video that shows old equipment performing Dylan’s classic anthem. Now, here’s hoping they disposed of the equipment responsibly after the “orchestra” performed.
Pity the poor cassette tape, once the supreme format for listening to music, and now it’s relegated to a nostalgic curiosity. But all is not lost because it seems to have found a second life as an artistic material. Previously, we’ve seen it used to recreate classic album covers, and now graphic designer Benoit Jammes has used some old tapes he found lying around to make colorful artworks, some of which are based on film posters.
Jammes distills the poster or image into its elemental basics so the pictures become minimalist representations, full of bold colors and simple shapes for maximum visual impact. So if if you find some old tapes lying around in your parent’s basement gathering dust and looking forlorn, you now know what to do with them.
Artist Pedro Reyes, who turned 1,527 weapons into 1,527 shovels to plant 1,527 trees — a project covered on Unconsumption here in 2010 — continues to convert Mexican drug-war weapons into art:
As part of his latest project Imagine, Mexico City based artist Pedro Reyes acquired some 6,700 weapons that were scheduled to be buried (as is customary in mass weapon disposals) and instead collaborated with six musicians to create 50 working instruments as part of a statement regarding increased gun violence in Mexico. The numerous firearms were cut down, welded and formed into a variety of string, wind, and percussion instruments over a period of two weeks … .
Pictured: “Dead Media,” an installation that repurposes 497 VHS tapes. Created by friend of Unconsumption Noah Scalin (mentioned previously several times here), of the Skull-A-Day project. (photo via SkullADay here)
See also: Other videotape-related repurposing examples in earlier posts here.
Beyond the viral-ready novelty, listen to the serenades of defunct hard drives, flatbed scanners, and garage sale-rescue computers and you might just hear a sense of urgency. As the discs whir, the chips bleet, and the solenoids ping percussion, this chorus of obsolete electronics seems to plea, save us from landfill doom.
The latest breakout hit from repurposed retro machines is Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know.” Here, it’s covered by a set of glockenspiel-playing solenoids and an HP ScanJet as the angst-ridden whine of the now-infamous vocals. An Amiga rounds out the band. Even the robotics can be counted as chip music, of sorts – a PIC16F84A (a simple microprocessor) acts as the brains. (Kids, ask your parents. Before Arduino, there was PIC programming.)