Riverfront Arts Centre, Newport.
Centrespace Gallery, Bristol.
Barnabas Arts House, Newport.
Art in the Attic, The Factory, Porth, Rhonnda.
May 2018, Maindee Library + with Rufus Mufasa & Unity
November 2018 to Llanover Arts Centre, Cardiff.

View the lost connections exhibition at the riverfront


Lost Connections by Marion Cheung

Lost Connections

Lost Connections transports us from the familiarity of our addiction to social media feeds, the cold blue light of digital screens that constantly distract us – to the largest e-waste dump in the world, in Agbogbloshie, Ghana – the catalyst was the documentary photography of Andrew McConnell and Kevin McElvaney.

It was predicted that in 2017 that there will be more than 10 billion mobile-internet connected devices worldwide, with very short life spans. Planned obsolescence has serious environmental implications.  As a result it has become economically viable to discard rather than repair. Electronic goods are sophisticated, containing tiny components that are impossible to recycle economically.

The largest e-waste dump in Africa - Agbogbloshie, Ghana used to be a wetland full of wildlife. It took just 15 years for it to become an environmental disaster where 'rivers have turned black and green...turgid chemicals seeping into the ground...' 

Communities live there with young people and children often burning computer monitors to access precious metal to sell. Health risks are ignored as much more is at stake. It's complicated. From the outside, it looks like rich countries dumping on poor -flouting international laws that should be preventing unrecyclable e-waste from coming into the country. Illegal e-waste dumping has become a lucrative business as safe recycling practices are expensive. Sometimes shipping containers bring the promise of out of date computers that could be used within the community, but instead they are unrecyclable and are damaged.

Lost Connections is an emotional response to the story - raising questions about e-waste; our relationship to digital technology and each other. 

To create this series and involve young people, I worked with Year 10 students from Bassaleg High School. The workshop settings provided opportunities to discuss e-waste and addiction to social media - students worked hard to make the representations of e-waste.

Artist Steven George Jones collected audio samples from digital games; mashed up with sounds from production processes. QR codes were generated for each painting.

With thanks to staff and pupils of Bassaleg High School, Nicola Yeoman - LLanwern High School, The Project Space, Upmarket Galleries, NCC, Wastesavers, Rhys and Gawaine Webber, James Carreon and Martin Browning.