Electrical

Batteries

Batteries (made in China, used worldwide)
Documentary film (2010): Ren left rural Sichuan to work in a nickel-cadmium battery factory in the city. She and her workmates get poisoned by cadmium dust in the factory air. Filmmaker Karin Mak challenges the stereotype of the quiet, passive Chinese factory worker. She follows Ren and her friends as they demand justice from local government and the battery manufacturer. Click for more...

Cell Phone

Cell Phone (assembled in China, used worldwide)
Documentary film (2005): Film-maker Thomas Balmès follows Nokia executive Hanna Kosinen and consultant Louise Jamison as they undertake Nokia's first 'ethical audit' of a cell phone factory in China. Their job is to see for themselves if and how Nokia can exercise its 'corporate social responsibilities' both to its shareholders and to its factory workers. Click for more...

GPS

Global positioning system (made in China, used worldwide)
Digitally generated animation and catalogue (2007): Starting in a consumer's lounge, artist Melanie Jackson deconstructs a GPS (or 'satnav') device via an animated film made from photographs, drawing and audio clips from the places, people and things that it's made from. It's a truly global story. It's complex, intricate and troubling. But what can animation do that documentary filmmaking cannot? Click for more...

iPad

iPad (assembled in China, used in the UK)
Newspaper article (2010): on May 27th, the front page of the UK's Independent newspaper is devoted to photographs of two things, placed side by side: an iPad and a framed portrait of a young Chinese man who has recently committed suicide. He had worked in the factory where iPads were being made. They are going on sale in the UK the following day. 'A gadget to die for?' is the headline. Journalist Martin Hickman investigates the connection between this commodity and this man's death. Click for more...

Jeans

iPhone + (assembled in China, used in the UK)
Undergraduate coursework (2014): student Charlotte Brunton gets free lifestyle catalogues in the mail all the time. But the lifestyles they showcase are those of consumers, whose lifestyles are separated from those who have made the products on show: like her iPhone 5. She wonders what a catalogue would look like if their lifestyles were shown together. So she makes one, about her lifestyle, featuring her favourite things, and the people who may have made them. Click for more...

iPhone 4cf

iPhone 4cf (ingredients from conflict-free areas, used worldwide)
Website and press release (2006): Culture-jammers the Yes Men create a spoof 'Apple' website to launch a new iPhone whose ingredients are 'conflict free'. They announce that you can upgrade your iPhone 4 to the conflict-free version free of charge. But this phone doesn't exist. Apple aren't making it. They can't make it. Apple forces the site to shut down. But an important debate was stirred in the process. Click for more...

Coffee

Anti-capitalist iPhone (used for tweeting by Occupy LSX participants outside St Paul's cathedral)
TV satirical news panel show segment (2011): the Occupy camp outside London's St Paul's cathedral has just become mainstream news in the UK. Conservative MP Louise Mensch appears on the BBC's Have I got news for you show. Panelists are asked to comment on the story. She says you can't be against capitalism when you're enjoying its fruits, like fancy tents, iPhones and Starbucks coffee. The others disagree. Click for more...

iPhone 4cf

iPhone 3G (assembled in China, used worldwide)
MacRumors web forum entry (2008): 'markm49uk' has a whole bunch of Apple products but is shocked by his new iPhone 3G. He turns it on and finds photos that have been taken with it of a young woman on its production line. She's smiling and making a v-sign. He posts them online asking if anyone else's iPhones have photos like his. The story goes viral. Who is this 'iPhone Girl'? What's it like to work in that factory. She looks so happy. Click for more...

iPod

iPod (assembled in China, used in the UK)
Undergraduate coursework (2006): Student Rebecca Payne is sitting at the back of a computer lab on campus. She is listening to her favourite music on her 'little white friend'. She wonders where he came from, and who helped her listen to him. She gets interested in the inner workings of the music industry, the inner workings of her ipod, and the people who put him and it together. What is this thing? Click for more...

Iron+

Iron + (made in China, used worldwide)
Documentary film (2006): Filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal follows industrial landscape photographer Edward Burtynsky as he visits factories, dumping and recycling sites in China and Bangladesh. His photos are stunning, beautiful, mesmerising and disturbing. Her film picks out the details and follows them, 'unfreezing' his photos in time. Click for more...

Laptop

Laptop (assembled in China, used in Senegal, Peru and elsewhere)
Undergraduate coursework (2009): Using only the internet, email and a telephone, students Sabrina Skau, Julianna Friend, Jenna Harris, and Sarah Cocuzzo investigate the manufacture and use of an inexpensive laptop computer designed, distributed and put in place to transform the educational opportunities for the world's poorest children. Click for more...

Laptop +

Laptop + (ingredient mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, used worldwide)
Art film (2007): Gravesend, by artist Steve McQueen, shows the mining and processing of coltan, an essential component of countless electronic devices assembled and purchased worldwide. Its title is taken from Conrad's Heart of Darkness. It has no voiceover. You can only watch it in an art gallery. It's deliberately not like a documentary you'd watch on TV. Click for more...

Laptop +

Smartphone (materials and labour from the Congo, China and Pakistan, used worldwide, )
Smartphone game app (2011): a new game was added to Apple's App store on September 9th 2011. Within 4 days it has been banned. It was an 'anti-iPhone game' that you could play on your iPhone. You could discipline children mining contan. You could catch workers trying to jump to their deaths from a factory roof. It was tasteless and it provoked debate. You can still play it, on your Android phone or computer. Why don't you? Click for more...