Digital Doubt outside the circle


2021 By Conrad Weise, Kjell Wistoff
Satellite images of 3 different warehouses, over them are lines with
different colours, connecting the three images
Conrad Weise & Kjell Wistoff, Return, 2021, Courtesy of the artists.

In Return, Conrad Weise and Kjell Wistoff undertake a bold experiment: Buying GPS trackers from Amazon, turning on the products, and then returning them. Weise and Wistoff then use the GPS locators to track the movements of their purchases until the batteries run out. Return surveils the packages as they move through countries, rest stops and warehouses. By monitoring the objects, the artists are able to create a map of the physical infrastructure that allows the digital giant Amazon to fulfil our one-day orders. The project also indirectly monitors the labour of the workers who handle such packages, including their breaks and weekends. The composite satellite images shown here reveal Amazon’s warehouses in Germany, Poland and Slovakia.

During lockdown, online consumption grew around the world by an average of 28 percent. Return not only exposes the current wastefulness of these systems, which are often marketed as efficient and seamless, but also investigates the energy, labour and environmental costs of our growing culture of digital convenience.