The Earth Is a Finite System While They Dream of Infinite Resources
Henry Lämsä



This project comes as an introspection of my own involuntary participation in mining and its influence and presence on the Anthropocene. It’s not peaceful or structured, it is chaotic in nature and related to the rising demand of raw materials needed to keep the information society running. Over 60 billion tonnes of resources are mined from the earth every year [1]. This includes metallic ores, fossil fuels and minerals, essential for devices needed for crypto mining to communication gadgets and lithium-ion batteries. The depletion of Earth’s resources is fast and gaining speed every year.

This artwork is the culmination of my studying of media affecting environment, particularly the footprint of the mining in our landscapes and its role in the Anthropocene. As I tried to make mining processes visible, I searched their locations and entered those into Google Maps but soon found this limiting and a monotonous way to approach my interest. So, I found myself travelling around the planet using Google Earth stripped out of all the regular signs of road, cities and attractions. Just the forms of earth guiding me while I was trying to pick out the human-made changes on the surface. Surprisingly, I ended up finding mines from which I took screen captures of and played them out in an image sequence. The rapidly changing images of crater-like structures started to feel like a form of meditation, or even a dream that some fantastical entity made from earth itself could have summoned up in their nightmares.

As I was already fascinated with the lifecycle of mined resources, I expanded my image search with the possible cycle of metals and minerals from the mines into our phones and computers. I did this by using a form of digital mining: I used a scraping code with which I could “scrape”, meaning download, large number of images from the Google’s image search. From all this images I created a narrative from the extraction to the final outcome(s), presented in a way of a kinestasis animation – a technique to create the illusion of motion through the quick succession of images and photographs [2]. This is a way to make visible the accelerating pace of extraction process and the link between the land and the product.

The second part of the project consist of three 3D-animations based on different satellite images of Finnish mines. By using colour and the mine’s depth, the void made by the extraction is visible by inverting the depth of the extraction and giving it mass. The void in the real without matter is now a non-void in digital space.

These two digital aspects come together as a projection on a rusted metal sheet. This is the material part of the project tying together the digital and the resources extracted from the earth.

References

[1] The World Counts. 12.12.2021: https://www.theworldcounts.com/challenges/planet-earth/mining/environmental-impacts-of-mining/story

[2] Rebour, Thomas. How To: Kinestasis stop motion. YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9WjeF_PMrU