Lisa Barnard, the British artist and photographer who chronicles e-waste in her new photobook, The Canary and The Hammer, is turning the camera on Bitcoin mining.
Exposing the complex relationships between big tech, global finance and gold in a work that spans four continents over four years and lays bare how the dramatic pursuit of the precious metal has transformed landscapes from Peru to China, Barnard calls her book a response to the 2008 global financial crisis that was fueled by the systemic accumulation of wealth.
Beyond spreadsheets and earnings calls, Barnard takes a critical look at the global economy, striving to connect the brutality of modern mining and gold’s subversive role in big tech.
She says China was the hardest location to document, reports British Journal of Photography.
“The recycling of e-waste for the gold is illegal, so it’s small artisan workshops…
There was no way I would get access to the big e-waste recycling plant, so I had to meet people in the dead of night in lay-bys. I had a couple of fixers and a bodyguard.”
The world is fuelled by gold. Lisa Barnard’s latest photobook shows how our dependence on this precious metal was born, and how it still remains the most valuable commodity. @MACK_books. https://t.co/4yXoHvNH8C pic.twitter.com/16Om8yqXAM
— Aesthetica Magazine (@AestheticaMag) August 8, 2019
Next up for the artist: a Bitcoin project.
In a new report by Wired, the photographer says a trip to Iceland brought her to a Bitcoin mining facility.
“The biggest thing I remember was just the noise and the flashing lights and wiring.