During a four-hour layover at San Francisco International Airport, multimedia artist Robb Godshaw saw that Recology had an Artist in Residence exhibit in the United Airlines terminal. He spent two full hours at the show, which he found incredible, particularly artist Andrew Junge’s Styrofoam Hummer H1 (low mileage, always garaged). Godshaw wasn’t yet an artist at the time, but the Recology show helped push him in that direction. When Godshaw applied for the program, he had a project in mind.
“When I toured the facility, I immediately noticed a large collection of old big-screen TVs,” Godshaw tells GOOD. “The seasoned dumpster diver in me knew these were e-waste gold. The lenses, mirrors, and films inside can be reconfigured in numerous ways for various effects. I had taken similar screens apart before forother optical projects, and knew how they worked.”
Godshaw wanted to convert the TV sets into enormous microscopes for what would become the artwork Big-Screen Debris. He arrived at this idea because older rear-projection TV sets have tiny televisions inside them—a passive set of lenses, mirrors, and films are used to magnify the tiny image onto the big screen. He took out all of the electronics but left the optics in place.
“At that point, it is a matter of lighting and specimen placement,” Godshaw explains. “The lighting has to be super bright in order for a clear image to form. I’m using mostly discarded LEDs for the lights and bicycle derailleurs for the focusing mechanism. All of the ray tubes and circuit boards from the TVs go back into the e-waste stream to be dismantled.”