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Silicon Valley Artist Breathes Life Into Rubbish Using Technology

Neil Mendoza gives new meaning to the expression “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” The British-born, California-based artist actively surveys landfills looking for collectibles that he later uses to create works of art that often serve as a commentary on man’s hyper-commercial world.

“Normally I don’t limit myself to trash, so this is an interesting constraint,” Mendoza told Culture Trip. The craftsman is currently the artist-in-residence at the compost, recycling, and landfill-collection company, Recology, in San Francisco.

Recology’s established its residency program in 1990, and utilizes its location within Silicon Valley to encourage the refurbishing of discarded technology. Mendoza, who specializes in digital technology-driven art, was chosen to work at the site to create installations out of tech trash and other recycled materials.

On his website, it says that Mendoza, who has an MA in math and computer science from Oxford University and an MFA in media design from UCLA, "uses digital and mechanical technologies to bring inanimate objects and spaces to life. Using this medium, he explores the absurd, the humorous, the futile and the surreal."

Mendoza has exhibited his work at The Science Museum, The V&A, Watermans, Currents New Media Festival, PICNIC Festival, The AND Festival, ISEA, Kinetica, The Nottingham Playhouse, The Barbican, BBC Big Screens and The Museum of London, Young Projects Gallery, Arena 1 Gallery and Oi Futuro among others.

He has also produced digital artworks and installations for a variety of clients including Accenture, Adidas, Audi, Bentley, Brother, Burton Snowboards, Doritos, Ford, Nokia, Swatch, and Wired Magazine, among many others.

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One installation features a fish, named Smashie, who activates a hammer that destroys a dollhouse.

Mendoza’s inspiration was simple. “People love to break ocean stuff,” he said. “The Fish Hammer empowers fish to break people stuff.”

"Humans have been destroying fish habitats for many years through activities from trawling the ocean floor to filling it with plastic. With the advent of the fish hammer, fish can now wreak destruction on mini human habitats," he adds.

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