[Feb 5] Upgrade Available: A presentation of new work by Julia Christensen

Harvestworks is pleased to present Julia Christensen who will present artworks from her current project, Upgrade Available. This project explores our complicated relationships with obsolete technology and recordable media in order to more broadly understand the e-waste crisis of the 21st century. The pieces Christensen will present include self-designed video projectors powered by discarded iPhones, 35mm slides re-drawn using archival ink on a digital plotter, and piles of old VHS tapes. She will also present documentation from her recent trips to India, where she visited formal and informal e-waste processing centers.

Friday February 5 2016 at 7pm


Location: Harvestworks 596 Broadway #602 New York NY 10012

Phone: 212-431-1130 Subway: F/M/D/B Broadway/Lafayette, R to Prince, #6 to Bleecker

Upgrade Available is a series of artworks and writings by Julia Christensen about our complicated relationships with obsolete electronics and recordable media. The standalone art pieces illuminate the ways in which we encode our electronics with our identity, our memory, and our legacy; when shown together, the pieces form a body of work that tells a story about technological obsolescence, upgrade culture, and ultimately, the e-waste crisis of the 21st century. In her talk at Harvestworks, Christensen will present documentation of these five art pieces. The artwork includes self-designed video projectors powered by discarded iPhones (“Burnouts”); 35mm slides Christensen bought at estate sales and drew archival pictures of using a digital plotter (“We Share Our Pictures”); and boxes of old VHS tapes that were saved for decades because they allegedly once belonged to the artist Chuck Close (“The Chuck Close Tapes”).
This work began in 2011 when Christensen visited a corporate e-waste processing plant in southern India, and was faced with 200 tons of electronic trash, most of which had been imported from the United States in the two weeks before her visit. These mountains of e-waste led Christensen to question how and why we purchase, consume, and throw away electronics at such an unsustainable rate in contemporary culture. As a media artist, Christensen recognizes how our electronics increasingly become appendages of our human experience, and yet as a culture, we have not thought critically about the exit plan for our electronic material upon obsolescence. The works in Upgrade Available connect our personal narratives with devices and recordings to the larger electronic aggregate circling the globe. Christensen has made multiple trips to India throughout the course of this project to visit both formal and informal e-waste processing centers; she will share documentation from these trips in her presentation at Harvestworks.

Upgrade Available has recently been written about in publications such as Creator’s Project, Bomb, and Make Zine. Christensen’s writing about the associated research has been published in Cabinet Magazine; her book about Upgrade Available is forthcoming. Installation, video, and sculptural pieces from the project have been featured in solo and group shows at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Gallery (NY, NY), Eyebeam (NY, NY), Center for Ongoing Research and Projects (Columbus, OH), and 21C Museum Hotel (Louisville, KY). Upgrade Available is supported by a Creative Capital Fellowship (Emerging Fields, 2013), with additional support from The MacDowell Colony, the Wexner Center for the Arts Film/Video Residency Program, Oberlin College, and the recently awarded Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award (2015).



JULIA CHRISTENSEN is an artist and writer whose work explores systems of technology, consumerism, landscape, and history. Her work has been in solo and group exhibitions at venues such as Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN), Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Gallery (NYC, NY), Lincoln Center (NYC, NY), Austrian Cultural Forum (NYC, NY), and Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (Cleveland, OH). Her work has been exhibited internationally in France, Greece, Finland, Croatia, Serbia, and beyond. Christensen is the author of Big Box Reuse, published by MIT Press in 2008. Big Box Reuse reached critical acclaim, with reviews and features in publications such as The New York Times, New York Magazine, Bookforum, The New York Review of Books, and The Washington Post. Her writing has appeared in such publications as Print, Architect, and Cabinet magazines. She has been an invited guest on many radio shows featuring her artwork and the related social, environmental, and economic issues, such as All Things Considered, On Point with Tom Ashcroft, Q with Jian Ghomeshi, among others. She has spoken widely at a variety of venues including Yale University, Georgia Institute of Technology, San Francisco Art Institute, University of Oregon, National Arts Club, Idea Festival, and the Los Angeles Forum on Architecture and Urban Design. Christensen is a recent recipient of the Creative Capital Fellowship (Emerging Fields, 2013), MacDowell Fellowship (2015), and Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award (2015). She has been awarded artist residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Wexner Center for the Arts, and the Experimental Television Center. Christensen received her BA in Integrated Art at Bard College, MFA in Electronic Music and Recording Media at Mills College, and MFA in Integrated Electronic Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is Associate Professor of Integrated Media in the Studio Art Department at Oberlin College.

“Media Artist Julia Christensen Turns Old iPhones Into Art,” produced by Creative Capital, October 2, 2014

Julia Christensen’s work has been included in the “Highbrow and Brilliant” quadrant of New York Magazine’s “Approval Matrix” (New York Magazine, December 8, 2008); Make Zine recently said that “Christensen’s work is a stunning demonstration of the tremendous potential for creative expression using technologies we might otherwise throw away,” (Make Zine, Andrew Salomone, “Julia Christensen’s Upcycled iPhone Art Project,” October 11, 2014); The Washington Post said that “Christensen has seen the future.” (The Washington Post, Joel Garreau, “Big Box and Beyond,” November 16, 2008)



“Julia Christensen,” by Kris Paulsen, Bomb Magazine online, March 27,2014

“We Talked to the Artist Turning E-Waste Into Projected Star Maps,” by Willa Kroener, The Creator’s Project, October 16, 2014

“Artist to Artist: Cory Arcangel and Julia Christensen on Media Fluidity and Obsolescence,” Creative Capital Blog, February 27, 2014

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