The Center for Ongoing Research & Projects

Julia Christensen


March 22nd - April 13th, 2014

  • Burnouts Installation View
  • Burnouts Installation View
  • Burnouts
  • Burnouts

The Center for Ongoing Research & Projects is pleased to present Julia Christensen’s Burnouts, an installation of custom built video projectors made from discarded technology. This exhibition is part of her larger ongoing investigation, Project Project, in which she seeks to challenge economies of e-waste and media art by repurposing trashed technology that she scavenges from around the world.

Burnouts is a series of five sculptural video projectors that beam images of retired constellations on the gallery ceiling. After tracking industrial trash from shuttered factories in Ohio across the globe to southern India, Christensen was inspired to investigate potential reuses of our discarded technology. The projectors on view are powered completely by decommissioned iPhones housed in slick, custom-built, rapid-prototyped cases. Christensen’s juxtaposition of outdated and current technologies highlights the rapid cycle of technology consumption, and how quickly the new becomes the old.

In each projector, the light of the iPhone is directed through a system of lenses and mirrors stripped from discarded overhead projectors that throw video animations of the constellations onto the ceiling. When astronomers determine that certain star groupings are no longer relevant to the study of the night sky, the arrangements are decommissioned, and are left off of future star maps. Usually, constellations are retired because radiant light from Earth has increased to the extent that the component stars and the overall shape are no longer visible from the ground. Of the forty-three constellations currently in retirement, five were named after technological devices that, like the constellations, have now been displaced by newer inventions—The Hot Air Balloon, Herschel’s Telescope, The Sundial, The Electric Generator, and The Print Shop. Christensen worked with astronomers and a planetarium staff to locate where the constellations were once visible to create animations of the stars. The projections of these five constellations are a poetic metaphor for the technology producing the image—the discarded, decommissioned constellations are brought back into view by outdated gadgets saved from the trash heap.


The opening reception for “Burnouts” will be on Saturday, March 22nd from 6 - 8pm.

About the Artist

Julia Christensen is a multidisciplinary artist whose work explores systems of technology, consumerism, landscape, and history. Her work has exhibited internationally, at venues such as the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Carnegie Museum of Fine Arts in Pittsburgh, Center for Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki, Greece, and The Lincoln Center in NYC. Christensen’s work has been funded by the New York State Council on the Arts, Turbulence, and she is a 2013 Creative Capital grantee in Emerging Fields. Her writing has been published in magazines such as Orion, Print, and Slate, and her book Big Box Reuse was published by the MIT Press in 2008. She is Assistant Professor of Integrated Media in the Studio Art Department at Oberlin College.

Burnouts is supported by Creative Capital.