Known in Chile as los hombres verdes, the green men of Ventanas are former copper smelter workers whose skin is scarred with green lesions produced by chemical reactions. Located some sixty kilometres north of the port of Valparaíso, Ventanas has been declared una zona de sacrificio due to pollution from heavy industry. The area’s general toxicity mirrors the purity of its copper exports, which travel primarily to China. Copper is essential to today’s digital capitalism and logistical technologies. Yet the reputed purity of the copper refined at Ventanas cannot fix the price of this commodity, which rather follows trading fluctuations on metal exchange markets. In the face of this financial uncertainty, data and logistics have emerged as the last hope to squeeze more from less in the Chilean copper industry.
Brett Neilson is Professor at the Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University. He is author, with Sandro Mezzadra, of Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor and The Politics of Operations: Excavating Contemporary Capitalism.
Ned Rossiter is Director of Research at the Institute for Culture and Society, and Professor of Communication, School of Humanities and Communication Arts, Western Sydney University. His current book projects include Media of Decision and (with Soenke Zehle) The Experience of Digital Objects: Automation, Aesthetics, Algorithms.