Rare Earthenware – Unknown Fields Division/ Toby Smith


Unknown Fields have used toxic mud from a lake in China to craft a set of three ceramic vessels. Each is sized in relation to the amount of waste created in the production of three items of technology – a smartphone, a featherweight laptop and the cell of a smart car battery. The project follows a well-concealed journey taking place across global supply chains. It retraces rare earth elements, which are widely used in high-end electronics and green technologies, to their origins. The film developed by Unknown Fields in collaboration with Toby Smith documents the voyage of these objects in reverse, from container ships and ports, wholesalers and factories, back to the banks of a barely-liquid radioactive lake in Inner Mongolia, pumped with tailings from the rare earth refining process.