These Are the Rare and Precious Metals Mined From Inside Old Electronics

You've surely heard that inside your iPhone, TV, and power drill sit fragments of valuable metals, and that our hunger for new gadgets is depleting the world of its very limited supply. But you've probably never actually seen those chips of gold or tantalum. Well, here they are.

Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen are London-based artists who frequently delve into global industrial production (see: a choreographed dance performance in a Chinese electronics factory). Their latest piece, H / AlCuTaAu, follows that thread even further into the manufacturing process. In this case, the duo snapped up a load of old electronics, from computers to machinery, from a factory that had gone bankrupt.


Then, they disassembled these devices and "reverse engineered" the process of building them, gleaning shards and fragments of the rare earth metals and precious metals embedded in their electronic guts.

The finished product is a new artificial ore, "constructed out of gold (Au), copper (Cu), tantalum (Ta), aluminium (Al) and whetstone" taken from inside the gadgetry. Though the artists are mum about it on their website, we've reached out for more information.


It's both fascinating and strange to see the minerals and metals that we've heard so much about laid bare—there's an odd kind of cognitive dissonance in knowing that these random bits of metal are the focus of so much global strife. [Creative Applications]


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