Trash or treasure?

Hannah de Bruijn

What is value? Is it some inherent characteristic any object possesses or something much more personal? These are the questions that were central to the trash hacking workshop that took place at Waag’s Open Thursday evening programme.

Tech-artist and roboticist Edwin Dertien starts the night with an introduction to his work, including his furby retirement home. The enthusiasm with which he speaks about his projects is contagious and people are itching to get started on their own creations. Cloths on a table in the back are lifted and a wealth of old toys and electronics is revealed. Time to start!

The goal of the workshop was to create something that can be used in everyday life. Something with a purpose, not making something just to make. Not only that, but the aim was to create something that functions better than other already existing alternatives. Edwin showed a shaving mirror made from an old navigation system holder as an example: suitable for everyday use and with the suction cup mechanism on the back the best one he’s ever owned.

From trash to treasure 

Although there was limited time to waste, a great variety of projects were produced during the workshop. Toys and electro trash are broken down, parts are soldered together, and glue guns are put to use. The trash items are constantly rediscovered and new values are uncovered. What looked old and useless before now provides exciting possibilities to make something new.  

Inventions created during the workshop range from a tea dunking device, to bicycle light indicators to place on your arms, to an alarm clock that sounds so loud it could probably wake up the entire city. 

At the end of the night, we start cleaning up and something feels weird. All the items we moments ago were trying to see the value in and use in our creations, suddenly look like trash again. Having become slightly attached to all these parts, throwing them out feels wrong. By working with these items, we have blurred the line between trash and treasure… making the items trashures

Find the pictures of the trash hacking workshop here.

Waag is open

On Thursdays Waag is open for public events. Want to join one of the next workshops or talks? Find more information about the upcoming events here.

About the author

  • Hannah de Bruijn worked as an intern at the Interface group of Waag.