The revolution is over. Welcome to the afterglow.
The digital revolution was a dinner party but its afterglow is not. The once utopian promises of high-definition audiovisuals, real-time electronic communication and infinite storage possibilities are just some of the digital culture perspectives that are now widely disseminated. At the same time as these phenomena are still shrouded in the glossy aesthetics of the digital, their tarnished appeal cannot be denied in a world where 'big data' is also the 'big brother' of mass surveillance and where the 'cloud' is made of the metals and minerals of the 'earth' on which data centers are built. Far from immaterial and neutral, our post-digital culture is one where tech is deeply embedded in the geophysical and geopolitical. This is evident at the significant 'other sites' of digital culture such as e-waste dumps, mines, mass-digitisation companies and security agencies.
transmediale 2014 proposed the post-digital moment of 'afterglow' as a diagnosis of the current status of the digital hovering between 'trash and treasure'. afterglow conjures up the ambivalent state of digital culture, where what seems to remain from the digital revolution is a paradoxical nostalgia for the futuristic high-tech it once promised us but that is now crumbling in our hands. The challenge that this moment poses is how to use that state of post-digital culture between trash and treasure as a still not overdetermined space from which to invent new speculative thought and practice. Are there means of renewal in the excess, overflow and waste products of the digital afterglow?