Giorgia Burzio

Rocks in Vogue
On material flows within electronic devices

Master of Fine Arts | Individual Study Plan in Design

short film 

Landscapes have been exploited and polluted by humans in order to obtain metals. We treat resources as commodities: extracted, used inside our devices and appliances, then discarded as useless matter. What would change if we would perceive materials as vibrant? Can we develop a more caring and attentive relationship with materials, energy and devices?

Rocks in Vogue is an exploration of the material flows within the production and disposal of electronic devices. Very often the connection between consumers and the source is invisible and well-masked behind the slick surfaces of our laptops and smartphones. The work highlights how alienated we are from the geological physicality of the surrounding digital technology. No “green energy” could exist without the extraction of iron, rare earths, cobalt, lithium, and more.
Through the disassembling of old broken devices, the metals found inside represent stories of labor, time and resistance. This reverse process, from the end-product to the raw sources, opens up the possibility of alternative forms of mining and a renewed attitude towards materiality, seen as agency with its own force. 

copper, iron and aluminum are recovered from two broken MacBook Pro. melting and casting 

The force and agency of the materials are expressed through low-power ceramic batteries. The elementary reaction moving from copper (positive) to iron (negative) represents a narrative of low power, material exhaustion and care. The human labor is brought to the surface by the crafted vessels, that are amorphous and communicate what is hidden within hyper-fragmented labor and mass-production.

The battery moves from being something that supports our technological desires, to a statement object that make things speak.

four batteries connected with each other, in acidic solutions (vinegar and lime juice), lighting a LED bulb

photos from the exhibition “Forma” at Ideificio Torinese, Turin.

A letter from my device to me

Iʼm part of you, so I can read your thoughts easily. You and I remember the first time you managed to buy the laptop you so deeply wanted. There I was, a brand-new MacBook Pro all for you. I represented status, functionality, aesthetic values; letʼs be honest, Iʼm a perfect designed artefact. 
Me? I was ready to learn about my owner. There I was, naive and information empty. All the parts inside of me, from the hard drive to the smallest metal, started working. Have you ever looked at the wonderful complexity that I am? Iʼm better than a globe. Iʼm the holistic object par excellence. Each part of me comes from a different part in the world; I crossed the main oceans; I have been touched by countless fingertips and experienced all kinds of climate. I experienced the equatorial climate of Congo, the wet season in Bolivia, the temperate climate in Mongolia. Nevertheless, this is not important for you. Or letʼs say, you are not aware of this. Globalised markets, cheap labor, hyper-fragmented production. Thatʼs what you and I are intertwined in. Connected, even if you donʼt want to. 
Then one day, the time to say goodbye arrived. I learned a lot from you, and you treated me well. There was a part inside of me that was not working anymore, and no, that was not your fault. I know how much you wanted to keep me with you, but I was dead for you. Inexistent, yet existent. A useless hulk.
Iʼm constantly amazed on how things change, but donʼt disappear. I feel like I changed so many times in such a short life. So voraciously wanted in the beginning, then a tireless worker, and after that an unusable dead matter, hoping to dissolve in the air.


Research project, writing, mapping
3D visualisation (Rhinoceros, Blender), 3D scanning 

in collaboration with Susanne Sjöberg, PhD 

traces in the mine, Ytterby (north of Stockholm)

Yttrium, Terbium, Ytterbium, Erbium. Those four metals are

some of the so-called Rare Earths and today are essential to

lighten up our screens and make our smartphones vibrate.

They all have been discovered in the rocks of a small mine

called Ytterby, in the swedish island Resarö, in the Stockholm

archipelago. The beautiful quartz rock, overlooking the sea,

embeds a tangled network of materials and contaminations

that stretches through time and space. Inspired by Timothy

Morton’s concept of nature, and Jane Bennett’s vibrant matter,

I spent many hours on the site, mapping and interacting with

the rocks, where all those metals have been found and that now

have contaminated the groundwater, spreading throughout the

area. The water leaking from the rocks’ cracks has been slowly

generating a proliferation of bacteria on the rocks walls. Water

and minerals, contamination and life
. Today, in the Rare Earths

mines in Inner Mongolia, toxic water dumps are spreading in

massive lakes that seem never-ending by sight.

The outcomes of the reflection are the graphical material, maps, on-site drawings and a series of reflective objects, including a mirror and an acupuncture kit. The objects and a short video have been exhibited with the purpose of making noticeable the interconnectedness of things.

from exhibition at Konstfack, 2020 -- print on acrylic, silicon props

Design for other-than-humans in an urban context 

In progress, prototyping & researching  

Feral pigeons (Columba livia domestica) are one of the main human companions in urban spaces. They are considered an invasive species for different reasons; very little attention is brought upon their habits and well-being.

Speaker for sociable pigeons is an attempted proposal to engage the city doves in interacting and mingling between 
each other.

The proposal is thought for a subway station in the south-west of Stockholm (Norsborg). 


A Surreal Glasses Store

Norm-Critical Design 

This is is an exploration on the objects glasses and lenses, through an ironic and sometimes surrealist perspective. Why things are the way they are, assembled the way they are? Could they be different, and what semantic they will have?

in order: Mycelium Glasses are Growing on my Face, Wood Glasses, Selling Tears

process - material explorations (mycelium, orange peel)

From Exhibition at Konstfack, November 2019

Senses Glasses

Computer-generated environment is now present in our life, but in the future its impact will be much more pervasive. We can simulate visual holograms, sounds and the digital contents surround us everywhere we go, with no exceptions.
We will might be able to virtually simulate smells and even the physical sensation of touch, through a technology that allows holograms to transmit vibrations when 'touched'.
Senses glasses is a device that allows humans to shut down the vision of the digital brightness and holograms, proposing a moment of meditation.
The hand device transmit vibrations - due to the contact with physical matter - to a processor in the eyeglasses frame, which will elaborate them to sounds. Having a sound responding to contact with matter will give meaning and reflection to the ability of getting in contact with the physical world, instead of the virtual one. We might finally be able to listen carefully to our surroundings, in a meditative state.

A future scenario where virtual reality and real world would be indistinguishable for humans is, really, an impossible one?