In Grey Gold, Black Lakes, White Latex, artist Sabīne Šnē shows how initially intangible IT technologies are deeply rooted in the extractive economy and linked to the resourcification of the Earth. As Šnē herself notes: ‘Everyone should be informed that there is a piece of the Earth in their hands while using their phone.’. The main material resources for technological development are the so-called rare-earth elements. There are only seventeen of these in the periodic table. They are metallic minerals that can be found in the Earth’s crust and are widely used in the manufacturing of various technologies; for example, computers, phones, hybrid cars, internet cables and so on.
Everyone who uses technology also uses minerals—they provide the basis for communication, cloud accounts and support the movement and progress towards more eco-friendly industries. They are also the reason why this artwork exists. The extraction of rare-earth minerals for manufacturing technologies is an infrastructure that transforms the Earth, shapes the economy, changes lifestyles and exploits resources. In her work, Šnē reveals a deep connection between industrial and post-industrial production, as well as the dependence of innovative technologies on the exploitation of natural resources.
Sabīne Šnē lives and works in Riga. In her creative practice, she constructs visual stories to explore the intersections between culture and nature, informed by historical and contemporary ideas. She is interested in the relationships and the interconnectedness between humans and nature. In her art, Šnē reflects on human habits, desires, traces of actions and their impact on the environment. In terms of mediums, the content of the work determines the result, but she usually works in digital media. She has participated in various group exhibitions and art projects in Latvia and abroad. In Winter 2022, she had her first solo show Partner, Parasite at KIM? Contemporary Art Centre, Rīga.