written by:
August 16, 2011

Scrolling through Dezeen recently—always an inspiring source for cool new projects and ideas—I came upon this eye-catching installation in the “Halle d’Aubervilliers” at the Centquatre art space, housed in a former public morgue in Paris. Architect Clémence Eliard and artist Elise Morin created a glittering landscape out of 65,000 discarded CDs. They call the project WasteLandscape.

A closer look at the CDs. They were painstakingly hand-joined together with lengths of twisted wire.
A closer look at the CDs. They were painstakingly hand-joined together with lengths of twisted wire.
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The CD blankets were draped over inflatable mounds.
The CD blankets were draped over inflatable mounds.
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A wider view of the 5,382-square-foot gallery.
A wider view of the 5,382-square-foot gallery.
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WasteLandscape by Elise Morin and Clemence Eliard 9

Here's a video the artists put together, showing the installation in process:

 

As Morin and Eliard write, "It is well known that CDs are condemned to gradually disappear from our daily life, and to later participate in the construction of immense open-air, floating or buried toxic waste reception centers. Made of petroleum, this reflecting slick of CDs forms a still sea of metallic dunes: the art work’s monumental scale reveals the precious aspect of a small daily object."

A closer look at the CDs. They were painstakingly hand-joined together with lengths of twisted wire.
A closer look at the CDs. They were painstakingly hand-joined together with lengths of twisted wire.

The show is on view until September 10, at which point it moves to a new, as-yet-undisclosed location. Eventually when the show closes, the CDs will be recycled (yet again).

The CD blankets were draped over inflatable mounds.
The CD blankets were draped over inflatable mounds.

I wrote to Eliard with some questions...

How did you come up with the idea for this installation?
Elise and I did an art installation called "Kinetic Cloud" for the "Nuit Blanche" in Paris in 2009, made of the accumulation of 2500 suspended adhesive tapes, creating an abstract landscape. Kinetic cloud was a reflection around making everyday objects precious and poetic. The tape had interesting plastic properties and the project was beautiful but we couldn't go further with it. So Elise and I started looking at other materials with interesting properties—something we could use in a more global project, and not only a one-shot installation. Soon we discovered that CDs and DVDs are not recycled in France and that's how we had the idea of the global project.
Where did the CDs come from, actually? Did you put a call out for them online, or in your neighborhood?
Both—around 8,000 CDs from friends and our neighborhood (we took one year to collect them!) and 60,000 unsold CDs from Universal Music.
Any surprises (positive or negative) arise during the installation?
The whole process was extremely intuitive, that's the way we work for budget reasons also. We did a small prototype (20 square meters) in the factory to have an idea how the inflatable would support the weight of the CDs, and to get an idea of the texture. We had an idea of what 500 square meters would look like but were still very surprised by the rendering! For example we could not imagine that it would look that liquid, like metal in fusion, or that it would change that much with the light and weather!

A wider view of the 5,382-square-foot gallery.
A wider view of the 5,382-square-foot gallery.

What's the reaction you've heard from people who've seen the installation?
Lots of different reactions depending on the people and their interest in contemporary art. Some people see a beautiful piece of art; some people see a gigantic fish or the sea; some people see an abstract landscape; some people see the reference to ecological issues. The project is very popular because of the several levels you can understand it on (beauty, landscaping, irony, ecological…).
Where will it go next?
We are working on it, we have lots of possible places all over the world but we need to find some money for transportation and installation. We would love to go to San Francisco, I love this city! The piece will eventually be destroyed in the end by recycling the plastic, and the recycled plastic will be sold to factories in France by the recycling factory. The art piece cannot be sold, and for that reason it is outside of the art market. Nobody will make money with it but it helped create jobs before and after the installation.
Visitors can walk between the installations, in an undulating "waste landscape."
Visitors can walk between the installations, in an undulating "waste landscape."

The installation has been developed by Elise Morin and Clemence Eliard in collaboration with the 104. The building has been refurbished by Marc Iseppi and Jacques Pajot of Atelier Novembre.

 

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