Tantalum Memorial - Reconstruction

By Harwood, Wright, Yokokoji. A FUSE-commissioned residency for the 2nd Biennial 01SJ Global Festival of Art on the Edge, ZERO1, CADRE Laboratory and the Lucas Artists Program, Montalvo Arts Center.

Update : Tantalum Memorial wins 2009 Transmediale First Prize
Article from Metro Silicon Valley : 01SJ Exhibit Wins Big

Tantalum Memorial — Reconstruction is a sculptural work that calls attention to the “Coltan Wars” in the Congo and memorializes the estimated 3.8 million people who died as a result of the conflict over tantulum -- a component derived from Coltan, mined in the Congo, and used in all mobile phones. The work is constructed out of redundant Strowger switches, the basis of the previous generation of telephone exchanges. In Tantalum Memorial — Reconstruction the Strowger switches are configured to physically dial telephone numbers being called in another Harwood, Wright and Yokokoji work, Telephone Trottoire (pavement telephony).

Produced in collaboration with Nostalgie Ya Mboka, Telephone Trottoire, as described by Harwood, Wright and Yokokoji, provides a platform for the “Congolese community in the UK to pass messages and record their views on issues currently affecting them. The system call[s] Congolese listeners, play[s] them a phone message, invite[s] them to leave their own comment and encourage[s] them to pass it on. This is built on the traditional Congolese practice of “radio trottoire” or “pavement radio” (passing around news and gossip on street corners to avoid state censorship).” Harwood, Wright and Yokokoji go on to explain, “[Tantalum Memorial — Reconstruction] weaves together the ambiguities and consequences of globalization, transnational migration and refugees and the impact of our addiction to constant communication… Tantalum Memorial — Reconstruction explores the contradictions of a globalisation that creates migrations yet keep migrants connected, and reveals the lives of displaced Congolese by extending their patterns of communication on the same mobile technologies that are at the root of the coltan wars.”

CADRE Team: Thomas Asmuth, Ethan Miller, Danielle Siembieda, Yumika Tanaka. Special thanks to: Teck Liew, Mike Lowell, Wayne Madsen, Vivian Mak, Mike Yohanes.