Research Project

The report Beyond the Age of Waste in 1979 warned of global consequences facing the continuing and increasing waste of resources. Although it has not yet resulted in a more thrifty management of resources, ‚waste’ may be thought of nowadays as a reverse figure: extensive cleaning and recycling processes regaining reusable raw materials out of waste. Waste is hence considered as a ‚new resource’, dynamic and transformable.

In Times of Waste this transformation processes and its stages are of interest. The research project looks at the purification, treatment and reuse respectively disposal of objects and materials as well as at involved actants and fields of activity. On the transport and recycling routes extending from Basel’s local context into global connections, objects are not only undergoing material transformation, but also economic, social, aesthetic or rhetorical reassessments. It is a matter of perspective what is considered when or at which stage of materiality as waste respectively as a ‚new’ resource.

On the basis of current network-, subject- and materiality-theories as Bruno Latour, Donna Haraway, Gilles Deleuze/Félix Guattari, Jane Bennett, Timothy Morton, Gay Hawkins/Emily Potter the research team is following up on questions like:

  • What are the transformation processes and value changes of (waste) objects or materials?
  • What materiality changes do they pass from creation to reprocessing respectively disposal or removal?
  • How are specific actants involved into these processes?
  • Which role play transmedial techniques in the research process and in presenting the topic for public reception?

An interdisciplinary team realises ‚object biographies’ of exemplarily selected objects or materials and their routes in the fields of e-waste (smartphone), deconstruction (eg. recycled material from buildings, contaminated earth) and water ecology (nano-silver). To develop the biographies the researchers work with a scientific-artistic practice using different media like sound, photography, video and text. The gathered and edited material will be collected in and published by a digital archive.

The aim of the project is to break-up cultural connotations of waste as well as to influence the discussion on sustainability in the region of Basel and beyond. It does so by applying an artistic-scientific process-oriented approach and its aesthetic implications. A discourse that should be seen within the context of globalised developments.

Times of Waste is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and supported by the research partners. It runs from January 2015 until March 2018 and is pre-nominated by IBA Basel 2020.

Information about the predecessor project RhyCycling (2010-2013) on