50 mineral elements are used in 98% of all electronic devices, from consumer cell phones to computers, from solar panels to electric cars.
As we head towards an ever more digital future, we are becoming increasingly dependent on extractive and global processes to support it.
For many of us, the electronic supply chain is characterised by its seamlessness and abstraction. Think: ‘one-click ordering’ or ‘next day delivery’.
Yet, these processes invariably depend on labour that is often tedious and slow, and carried out under precarious and hazardous conditions.
While many journalists have reported on supply chain working conditions, they sometimes end up reproducing the dominant narratives surrounding these processes.
Such narratives center the consumer of a marketed end product, forgetting that the electronic supply chain doesn’t stop with the consumer at all...
...but continues on into recycling centers, with salvagers, and at e-waste sites around the world...
...Reminding us that words like ‘end consumer’ and ‘end product’ are situated, and offer only a partial perspective of consumer technology life cycles.
They beg the questions: end consumer of what and end product for whom?
supply-chains.us is a living archive that traces these uneven geographies, extractive processes, and forgotten labour involved in the production of our digital life.
This project is updated on a regular basis, and is best viewed from a desktop computer.