Sick of Landfill, Artists Turned E-Waste into Floral Mandalas

Lithuanian artists Agnė Gintalaitė and Rimas Valeikis arranged old phones, laptops, electronic toys​ by color, shape, and form to help raise awareness about the need to recycle.

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Jun 13 2017, 3:33am

Images: Agnė Gintalaitė and Rimas Valeikis

Old computers, phones, chargers, and other devices sit in our cupboards and garages, neglected for a period, likely years, before we finally decide to throw them away. But, when you do they'll likely end up in landfills and incinerators, which is obviously very bad news for the environment even if it does make you feel less cluttered.

Instead of being thrown out, this e-waste is used to create floral mandalas in a series of pieces by Lithuanian artists Agnė Gintalaitė and Rimas Valeikis, made to coincide with World Environment Day.

The project was commissioned by the Association of Electronic Distributors (EPA) in Vilnius, Lithuania to highlight the need for recycling electronic goods. The project consists of ten mandalas whose kaleidoscopic designs are created from repurposed batteries, electrical wires, light bulbs, microchips, laptops, TVs, vacuum cleaners, electronic toys, music players, phones, and more.

"Centered plants, flowers, ripples created by raindrops—it's a kind of mandala, which is a natural thing in nature," explains Gintalaitė. "People are surrounded by modern technology, so these discarded electronic devices shaped in to petals of the mandala, should create a connection. We wanted it to be aesthetically pleasing, looking at them should be as a kind of therapy, and while examining the details—you should feel the desire to seek and find both interesting details and questions with answers."

The e-waste was supplied by a local recycling company, with the idea to raise public awareness through the pictures and get people to be more considerate when discarding their old electronic items. Either that, or perhaps these might inspire people to utilize their old electronics for art. Say, turn them into a sculpture like the WEEEman by artist Paul Bonomini, which resides at the Eden Project in Cornwall, England. Or use them to brush up on your circuit bending skills. Anything's better than throwing them in a landfill.

"A pile of garbage is obtrusive, but the human touch: sorting the garbage, arranging it according to the colors and forms, create a new aesthetic object," notes Gintalaitė. "Just as ugliness becomes beauty, by sorting and recycling electronic waste we create something qualitatively new. The new reality of the unnecessary e-waste objects is created and this aesthetic object symbolizes a new moral category. It becomes a reminder that we must act responsibly and properly sort waste."


The pictures are on display until the June 16, 2017 at the Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, the Hall of Architecture, on the 4th floor. They will then tour Lithuania. See more work from Agnė Gintalaitė at her website. And see more by Rimas Valeikis at his website.

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