Category: Sierra Leone

14 February: nothing says ‘I love you’ like…

Buying gifts to give to loved ones presents unique dilemmas to those who are concerned about who made them, under what conditions.

Can you express your love for another person by buying them conflict jewelry, or child labour chocolate? And what are the alternatives?

Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day soon. It’s also been claimed as International Flower Workers’ Day. We’ve added a Seasonal Header to our website to make the point that they are the same thing.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 5.48.12 PM

Click this to get to our website

We have also created a set of Lego re-creations to encourage discussion about things and love this week.

Valentine's Day 2: Kanye West's "Diamonds are from Sierra Leone'.

  • one is based on a followthethings.com page about a controversial advertising campaign by the Finnish chocolate brand Fazer, which refers to a documentary called ‘The Dark Side of Chocolate;
  • another (above) re-creates a scene from Kanye West’s music video ‘Diamonds are from Sierra Leone’, where a New York jeweler takes a diamond directly from a child miner and gives it to a wealthy client;
  • a third takes Livia Firth’s short film about the care that unseen garment, shoe- and jewelry-makers invest in consumers’ appearance, and applies it to Valentine’s day flower growers;
  • and the last one re-creates part of an activist documentary arguing that these kinds of hidden relations encourage us to think differently about ‘love’ in all of our relations, near and far, known and unknown.

Click the links or the slideshow photo to find out more, and to get some advice on more ethical Valentine’s Day gifts. Click here to go directly to the YouTube Valentine’s Day playlist that goes with the set.

February 14th could be an unforgettable day.

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Quite literally ‘following the thing’

Talking about our site with students at Bath Spa University this week, I wanted to show the most literal (and chilling) example of the ‘follow the things’ genre. It’s the only example we have come across which follows something as it’s being made, shipped, and used: telling the story of a thing’s life from the perspective of the thing itself, from its ‘point of view’, like a ‘shoot-em-up’ video game. It’s the ‘Life of a bullet’, the opening scene from the 2005 movie ‘Lord of War’.

Life of a bullet

Lego re-creation

Revisiting this opening scene, we made a new Lego re-creation today using the decommissioned AK47 bullet that we bought as a necklace from an E-Bay seller in Canada. We initially bought it to take the product photo on this example’s followthethings.com page, but it’s still sitting in our office, with our Lego, so…

Lord of Ward movie trailer: the life of a bullet

followthethings.com page

Our page about the making, discussion and impacts of this opening scene is here. To see all of our Lego re-creations, check this ‘Made in Lego’ set on flickr.