There’s something fishy going on inside Edinburgh’s Westside Plaza…
Created by local artist Jonathan Elders, “Betty” is a basking shark created from discarded keyboards, made for a special art installation called “Devouring Technology”. The piece puts a spotlight on the issue of electronic waste and how modern society “devours” technology, leaving behind masses of unwanted items as we upgrade to the latest models.
Native to Scottish waters, the colossal basking shark swims around, endlessly feeding with its gaping mouth wide open…
But why a shark for this piece?
“It’s the perfect metaphor for our appetite for the latest tech, consuming without thinking about the consequences.” the accompanying plaque reads.
“Betty the shark was made using discarded electronic waste, collected by CCL North, a company based in Irvine which processes and recycles WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment).
But not all e-waste is handled this way. Much of it is sent to other countries where the handling of it is less regulated. If you look in Betty’s mouth, you can see footage of a worker in Cote d’Ivoire who is processing European e-Waste with no protective equipment and only basic tools.”
Betty’s legacy began when in 2019, Edinburgh Science Festival made a call out for sculptures which used E-waste and highlighted the issue of what we do with old technology.
As the winning submission, Betty was first displayed in the Grand Gallery of the National Museum for Scotland from 6th-21st April 2019.
Since then, she has been exhibited through Leith Collective at Ocean Terminal in response to COP 26, now touring Scottish shopping malls as a public engagement tool to support and inspire recycling and proper e-waste management.