San Jose E-Waste Upgraded To Artwork

It seems only fitting that the San Jose Museum of Art – a cultural institution situated in the heart of California‘s Silicon Valley – would pay an artistic tribute to the computer. Its latest exhibition, “Beta Space: Anna Sew Hoy,” does just that, with a little help from San Jose-based e-waste collector/recycler GreenMouse Recycling.

After commissioning the project and selecting artist Anna Sew Hoy, the museum approached GreenMouse’s owner Evelyn O’Donnell to provide a selection of collected e-waste among other “raw” materials, as GreenMouse already hosts a permanent display of obscure and early computer technologies that illustrates the history of obsolesce in both industrial design and computer technologies. In conceiving this new work, Sew Hoy was asked to visit and respond to San Jose and Silicon Valley’s technology culture; she said that it made sense to look at e-waste as a reflection of those Silicon Valley startups that first boom and then bust.

greenmouse recycling, San Jose Museum of Art

image via GreenMouse Recycling

Set to run until February 2012 as part of the museum’s ongoing experimental gallery, “Beta Space” focuses on new, interdisciplinary and creative uses of nontraditional media and materials by internationally acclaimed artists from the Bay Area Glass Institute, who – under Sew Hoy’s direction – created a new group of sculptural works in large, custom-blown glass vessels containing the “electronic detritus” provided by GreenMouse Recycling.

O’Donnell reports that she was happy to help the artists in creating this work, as the company’s involvement in efforts such as this – as well as the “mini-museum” in GreenMouse’s office and their fundraising work with local organizations and charities –  is part of how the company helps to distinguish itself from more industrial e-waste recyclers.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.