MATLAB and Processing software
The removal chain that takes trash from garbage can to processing and recycling facilities is more complex than we can imagine: as globalization increases, waste from Los Angeles can resurface as carpeting in Alabama or even clothing in China. TrashTrack gives us some insight into the process, revealing the hidden infrastructures of urban trash removal. Waste products from households, businesses, and government offices in New York, Seattle, and London were tagged with custom-designed, nontoxic chips and the signals from the tags were overlaid in real time onto satellite maps to demonstrate the objects’ physical journey. Carlo Ratti, director of SENSEable City Lab, likens the project to the tracing of nuclear molecules through the human body in order to learn how systems work. To raise awareness, SENSEable City Lab exhibited the project results at The Seattle Public Library and The Architectural League of New York in 2009, showing the maps alongside footage of waste-disposal and recycling facilities by video artist and photographer Armin Linke.