Forget Bruce, meet Betty

Betty the shark may not evoke the same hysteria (on a beach or on the silver screen) as our Bruce but she has been playing an important role at the Edinburgh Science Festival in Scotland.

She is a basking shark created from discarded keyboards by Edinburgh-based artist Johnathan Elders for a special art installation called Devouring Technology, which until recently was available to view at the National Museum of Scotland.

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This special installation aimed to highlight the issue of e-waste humanity faces. Modern society ‘devours’ technology, with a constant appetite for newer, better and faster things. What happens to the masses of the unwanted items we leave behind though? How can we prevent them from clogging our oceans and landscapes? The installation invited its visitors to explore how we can all turn the tide on our hunger for tech in a more sustainable direction.

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Artist Johnathan Elders said: “The basking shark is the embodiment of the scale and nature of our electronic waste problem. A colossal creature made up of a tiny part of the vast ocean of the e-waste that we produce. Swimming along, mouth wide open, endlessly consuming without any consideration. This is how I feel about our own attitude to the electronic goods, always hungry for the newest tech, but not stopping to consider the impact of our throwaway culture.”

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“I wanted to try and capture the scale of the electronic waste problem and highlight some of the issues created when we ship off our e waste to countries where its processing is not so well regulated.”

Native to Scottish waters, basking sharks are colossal but harmless creatures, living on tiny plankton they sift out of the water. As the second-largest living shark, they are constant consumers, with their gaping mouths on a never-ending hunt for food.

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Edinburgh is also set to expect further shark activity this summer with the son of Jaws legend Robert Shaw. Ian Shaw will bringing his dad’s iconic Quint character to the stage – along with Chief Brody and Matt Hopper – for The Shark Is Broken, the behind the scenes story of Jaws, which is being performed at the Edinburgh Festival. You can catch our interview with Shaw about the forthcoming show here.

By Dean Newman 

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