Project: Upgrade Available

Upgrade Available is a body of work that explores our cultural relationships with obsolete electronic material. The work began in 2012, when Julia Christensen visited an e-waste recycling center in the south of India, and was faced with a mountain of trashed electronics. In order to grasp the enormity of our e-waste stream, she began investigating narratives surrounding the electronics we consume, hoard, and discard at an unsustainable rate in the 21st century. The resulting pieces (Burnouts, The Big Feed, Hard Copy, The Chuck Close Tapes, and Infinite Loop) each explore our relationships with such objects as outdated smartphones, VHS tapes, and hard drives. Christensen repurposed discarded electronics to make self-designed sculptural video projectors for these pieces; the body of work additionally includes photography, video, sculpture, and installation. Christensen is also writing extensively about these stories and the related issues.

Awardee: Julia Christensen

Emerging Fields, 2013

Julia Christensen is a multidisciplinary artist whose work explores systems of consumerism, community, landscape and history. Her work has been exhibited broadly, including at the Walker Art Center, Carnegie Museum of Fine Arts, 21C Museum Hotel, and Eyebeam. She has received reviews in The New York Times, Washington Post, Bookforum and Dwell, among many other publications. Christensen is the author of Big Box Reuse, published by MIT Press (2008), and her writing has appeared in publications such as Cabinet, Print, and Slate. She has received residencies at the Wexner Film + Video Studio, MacDowell Colony, and the Experimental Television Center, and she won the 2015 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. Christensen is Associate Professor of Integrated Media in the Studio Art department at Oberlin College, where she has previously served on the faculties of TIMARA (Technology in Music and Related Arts) and Environmental Studies.