Recycling Pervasive Media, Intervening in Planned Obsolescence, and Practicing Technological Sustainability at the Banff Centre
i - The Francis Cook landfill, and other dumps

august 20, 2011.

No-luggage is my preferred état de voyage. I detest having to drag bags and suitcases along. Worse of all, of course, is the checking in and retrieval at airports. It is why I do my utmost to limit (as much as possible, and then a little bit more) the number of things that I carry along with me. Especially on airplanes. On July 7th, you might have caught me flying from Paris-Charles de Gaulle to London-Heathrow, and from there on to Calgary International Airport, carrying nothing but a handy red bag that RĂ©bus had lent my, for my iThings, a note book and some spare clothes. Thus, light as the proverbial feather, I went on my way for an international summit annex workshop on art, technology, and recycling at the Banff Centre, up in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The meeting was organized by Jonah Brucker-Cohen and Katherine Moriwaki, together with Susan Kennard and Mark Resh from the Banff Centre. Readers of this blog might remember Jonah and Katherine from a fruitful junk hunt that we did two years ago in the Parisian suburbs, lead by Rébus, preceding one of Jonah and Katherine's Scrapyard Challenges, in the Palais de Tokyo. The event in the Banff Centre went by the, at first sight rather intimidating, title of Recycling Pervasive Media, Intervening in Planned Obsolescence, and Practicing Technological Sustainability. Which then, on the other hand, was abbreviated to a somewhat tongue-in-cheek acronym: R.I.P.. And in practice meant, that a group of smart and fun people from all around the globe was brought together in Banff, and there did some amazing things with... trash...

charles de gaulle

I left Charles de Gaulle airport at 12h30, local time, and arrived in Calgary around 20h. Also local time. There I hopped on the Banff Airporter, a shuttle bus that went on another 2 hour trip, into the Banff national park, and 3d ROy up to the amazing Banff Center. I actually arrived there together with Niklas Roy, who had been on the same flight and the same bus. It was a re-meet, as in october last year both Niklas and I were at the great Basel Shift Festival, my report of which, I now realize, never went beyond a first - found taping - installment. At the 2010 Shift Festival Niklas exposed his Grafik Demo (from 2004), a physical wireframe model of a teapot inside a Commodore CBM cabinet, a work also that would have nicely suited the R.I.P. event.

Slightly dazed by jetlag and both undeniably impressed by the grandeur of this place in the midst of the mountains, that we found ourselves in at the end of our transcontinental leap, Roy and I went for a beer in the MacLab bistro, before retreating to try and get some sleep within our shifted time frames.

After an introductory & welcome session, and a guided tour of the Banff Centre the next morning, the afternoon of Friday July 9th, came with one of the many R.I.P. highlights. We went on a field trip/junk hunt, that first took us to the Francis Cook landfill, near the Hamlet of Exshaw, some 45 kilometers south of Banff. Here's a wonderful panorama that Jonah shot when we arrived there, after a short but eventful trip. (Click it for a larger view ...)

landfill panorama

We had to change busses, as our original vehicle broke down before we even managed to leave the town of Banff. On the highway for a while we chased a guy who seemed to be transporting a dead bear in the back of his pick up truck ...



We got a (partial) tour of this gigantic waste burial and recycling area, and then went sniffing on our own, looking for stuff that might come in handy for the workshop. We had to be somewhat careful, though, because of the fierce wind blowing. It caused dense clouds of dust, that, at times rather unexpectedly, came swirling around the corners of the many heaps of waste of some sort or other.

Eager, of course, to add a couple more to the (two) found-in-Canada tapes that currently are part of my collection of Found Tapes, I kept both eyes wide, wide open for whatever kind of magnetic tape. The (relatively small) part of the landfill that was covered with car wrecks seemed the best bet. It was indeed there that I picked up the mud filled TDK cassette in the picture below. And Benjamin Gaulon found me another one. Both, obvious, had come with one or the other of these car wrecks.

Landfill tape

Along with a selection of highly useful trash from the Francis Cook landfill, we drove back to Banff, where we halted at the town's Recycling Depot, for a second guided tour of urban waste. It is a matter of fact that I had not seen such quantities of garbage together in a single day since the early 1970s, when at high school I wrote up a detailed and illustrated inventory of dumps in and around the city of Maastricht :-) Which, on the other hand, also proves how far back one may trace my active fascination with city garbage. And even though I rarely think of myself in such terms, I really have been sort of a trash fiend for most of my life ...

recycling banff
recycling banff
recycling banff

Here is some of the stuff that we collected at the Recycling Depot and then took along to the Banff Centre, where, over the days to come, we would transform them into, well ... some-things-else ...

junk harvest

PS.: Just a little more than a week after our visit to the Francis Cook Landfill, a massive blaze consumed one of the landfill's woodpiles: "Flames bathed the surrounding cliffs in orange light, throwing embers 600-metres into the surrounding forest. A massive pile of dry, sorted wood, which the landfill had collected for the past eight months to chip and resell, was now a towering inferno, spreading the width of a football field," we read in the Rocky Mountain Outlook's report.

[ - to be continued - ]

tags: R.I.P., Banff, foundtaping

# .414.

comments for R.I.P.-1: The Francis Cook Landfill and other dumps ::

Comments are disabled

« | »


our podcasts:

Raudio Podcast