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Acid Love
Tshimologong Precinct, Johannesburg

One of the ecologically volatile effects of extractive industries is “acid mine drainage,” or AMD. AMD is the result of chemical feedback in which sulfides previously locked away in bedrock are exposed to oxygen, water, and acidophilic bacteria—the resulting chemical reaction leaches heavy metals into the water that are highly toxic to most lifeforms and are also a potential source of rare earth elements for the electronics industry. This material process is embedded within ensembles of geology, historical industrial practices, and contemporary socio-economics in South Africa.

Installed at the Tshimologong Precinct, a former nightclub turned digital innovation center in downtown Johannesburg, Acid Love comprises vessels of AMD gathered from a mine on the outskirts of the city. These are connected in an electrical circuit that measures the conductivity from the metals of the water and coverts it into sound. The sound is further modulated by data gathered from remediation efforts at the mine. The installation itself also performs a remediation process—over time the metals will precipitate to the bottom of the vessels, and both the sound and the color of the water will change as it is purified.

Produced in collaboration with the Centre in Water Research and Development at University of the Witwatersrand.

Curator: Lenore Manderson, Tegan Bristow. Commissioned by: Watershed Festival, Fak'ugesi Festival. Thanks: Tamlyn Naidu, Nick Burman, Craig Sheridan, Mark Lewis, Christo Doherty, Lucia Monge, DIZ Maker Space, Tshimologong staff.