Junk Gold//Kirk Malanchuk
The Collecting, Processing, and Archiving of Unwanted Goods
Junk is a defining by-product of our current consumer society. It permeates the urban environment as an artifact and a site, linked to a global network of trade. But junk, like the other forms of waste it is often mistaken for, is in a state of constant flux, changing form and location. As a result of this, the junkyard, the primary site of collection, has typically been relegated to the periphery of cities in North America, resulting in the concealment of its contents. By locating junkyards on the periphery and concealing their contents, cities encourage the large, global scrap trade while discouraging community driven innovation and entrepreneurship. This thesis posits a divergence and an arrested circulation in the existing flow of scrap offshore, while recognizing that the global scrap trade will continue to exist so long as there is a market. In the decades following the Second World War, as consumption vigorously increased so too did the ceaseless flow of junk from local urban markets in the United States to offshore sites. But as raw materials become increasingly scarce and expensive to mine, informal collectors at the local scale play an increasingly important role. This thesis proposes a series of small-scale, urban junk markets and scrap metal processors positioned throughout Seattle, with particular investigation of a site in the International District (formerly Chinatown). These junk markets will serve as hubs for the trading, storage and processing of these American artifacts, typically buried in landfills or dumped in junkyards. The project will thus act as a market and archive for junk, providing for its barter and repair, and its processing into scrap. Lastly, as commodities markets fluctuate and materials become more scarce, these depots will also act as scrap banks, preserving valuable metals for future use.