An Afterglow of the Mediatic

An Afterglow of the Mediatic

This stream offers insights into waste and mines, data and hardware—the long tails of unintended consequences—in a way that entangles issues of labour, geopolitics, economics, media and the Earth into a weird planetary constellation.

 

Chairs: Ryan Bishop and Jussi Parikka, Winchester School of Art.

Mines and mining are once again the subjects of debate and inquiry. Since the 19th century, mining has provided burgeoning technological culture with the raw materials to keep it going, from copper and tantalum to other metals. These kinds of extractive acts, including those of energy production, continue to be conducted for different corporate and industrial needs, and now the very products that result are also being ‘mined’ from inside abandoned computers, contemporary archaeological digs that contain minor riches in traces of gold and silver. At the same time as these ragpickers of the 21st century are after metals in junked IT consumer goods, corporate platforms are interested in both material and immaterial mining, including the soft mining of data: the long trash trails which offer lessons in bodies of data.

The geological and the geophysical are also embedded in our contemporary concerns in art, politics and (in)security resulting in a more complex and nuanced set of geopolitical extractive imperatives. Debates concerning earthquake fault lines are as important as the military use and abuse of geographical features, a characteristic of war since early times but an especially high-tech one now in the age of the digital. The US DoD project, Transparent Earth, for example, intends to map the five kilometres immediately below the earth’s crust to locate underground structures as well as physical, chemical and geological strategic advantages for military operations.

This stream offers insights into waste and mines, data and hardware—the long tails of unintended consequences—in a way that entangles issues of labour, geopolitics, economics, media and the Earth into a weird planetary constellation.

*We are grateful for the generous support of the Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung) for our conference programme as well as to our conference partner institution, Winchester School of Art (WSA), for the stream An Afterglow of the Mediatic.

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