Data Weaving, 2008
as part of "wasted" and "Mission Material" / Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle

The materials of data carriers such as magnetic video or cassette tapes, slide photographs or Super8 films are obsolete in 2008. Through digital formats such as mp3 or mp4 data is no longer mainly transported in cassette form, but exchanged on the Internet or smaller memory cards and USB sticks. The transport routes of the data streams and thus their carrier materials have changed. The old carrier materials have expanded. There are millions of entries on ebay in Germany alone where the VHS and tapes are offered in large volumes for 1 Euro only. Here their worthlessness becomes visible, but also hints to a much larger invisible mountain of unwanted matter.

The masses of entertainment media which accumulated in the countless households since the 60s, 70s and 80s have become obsolete in the consumer society of the 21st century. And yet, there are virtually only a few recycling processes for those materials. Recycling a mono material plastic is already a challenge. Data carriers are compounds of various petroleum-based plastics in combination with magnetic, mostly environmentally harmful chemicals that are difficult to separate. Some companies like EMTEC (BASF magnetics) have developed recycling processes and take back their products. For many others, however, cost-benefit efforts are not worth it and the materials are disposed in ordinary household trash. In the few existing recycling processes the impact on the environment remains unclear.

In the project “Data Weaving“ various ways of dealing with data carrier materials beyond waste and industrial processes were explored. Baking, weaving, laminating, crushing, loading, tearing, braiding or preserving: By practical approaches through hands-on, accessible working methods of low-complexity the reuse of the materials which are difficult to recycle was investigated. Additionally the research raised questions about the "invisible" material on the data carriers - the data itself. How does the film get on the "film"? How does data get onto the medium and how is data on the medium made visible by projectors? How are imagination, projection, history and material connected? What happens to the films, music, images, stories and memories when their carrier material is recycled? Can players and projectors be part of the recycling process? An exploration through reusing tangible and non-tangible data material.