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Reportage à Vision'R
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“Road to Ruin”, Kabul, Afghanistan, July 2008, by Stanley Greene.
Exclusive article from MCD magazine: The culture of green tech
For his “E-waste Trail” project, the cofounder of Noor photo agency is traveling around the world on the trail of electronic waste. Faithful to his line of conduct: to document and inform in order to change attitudes.
With his Chechen flag beret, small round sunglasses and heavy silver rings, Stanley Greene hasn’t aged, hasn’t changed. Famous for his coverage of the Chechen conflict in the 1990s and founding the Noor photography agency in 2007, Greene has just received a grant of 20,000 dollars from Getty Images to carry out a project on electronic waste: E-waste Trail.
In the United States, where he was born, Stanley Greene studied under W. Eugene Smith, and it’s from a humanistic perspective that he sees this reporting: “The more civilized we have become, the more barbaric we act towards our fellow humans,” he writes in the introduction to his project. “Because of our disregard of the Earth and the people in it, we managed to poison the air, the land, the water and human beings.”
Dumping on the ice
Stanley Greene immediately expresses some reserve toward new media technology, which he believes has cut us off from our environment. When we meet him, he describes a scene he witnessed that same morning at the train station: “A girl was wearing sunglasses, listening to earphones and texting while walking. She almost fell onto the track...” he is angry that his computer shows signs of weakness after four years. “As I know, the first electric lightbulb made by Edison, which he gave to a firehouse as a gift, still works. Today, everything we make is programmed not to last. We live in a throwaway society.”
The idea of undertaking this photographic work on electronic waste came to him in 2009. At the time, Stanley was working in Greenland on climate change for a large-scale project in two parts – Consequences and Solutions – assembling
all the Noor photographs (1). he discovered and photographed some old computers dumped on the ice. “Under the pretext of protecting the environment, we now prohibit Eskimos from hunting seals, which is their reason for being – Eskimo means meat-eater. And ships have just dumped our broken computers on their icefield!”
“My job: sniffing the air”
Stanley plans to go to China, India and Pakistan. He already knows that it won’t be easy, and that the authorities will no doubt give him a hard time. “Pakistan especially isn’t likely to be a picnic. I’ll be discreet, I don’t want them to know that I’m there.” In terms of method, he trusts his instinct, even if he’s done his research: “Why go to a country if you already have preconceived ideas of what you’re going to find? The job of an investigative journalist is to go there and sniff the air.” Documenting and informing, he believes, are the only ways to change our habits as consumers.
For this project, Stanley decided to renew with the Leica and silver film photography. But don’t processing fluids and silver film salts pollute just as much as electronic waste? “The guys at Picto, who spent 20 years in the lab developing film, are still alive. The cigarettes that they chain-smoke are more likely to kill them. On the other hand, if you open your computer and play with what’s inside, there’s a good chance you won’t get away with it.”
Interview by Frédérique Deschamps
Exclusive article published in MCD magazine #65: The culture of green tech
(1) www.noorimages.com/noorfoundation/special-projects/climate- change-by-noor/
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