This evening is focused on the waste that is generated by our growing reliance on the digital. This encompasses both the tangible and the abstract aspects of our digital existence: from the physical infrastructure of internet cables on the ocean floor, sprawling data centers, to our electronic devices like smartphones and computers, which quickly end up as electronic waste when new developments render them outdated.
Our exploration extends to the intangible dimensions of 'digital waste’. Cloud storage gives us the impression that data is stored in an “immaterial” dimension, while it relies on a massive internet infrastructure of data centers, that require hardware, energy and emit CO2. This evening we raise questions about the environmental implications of persistently archiving digital data, and explore alternative ways of data storage.
Our digital worlds depend on resource-extractive practices, contribute to geopolitical inequalities, consume significant amounts of energy, occupy land, and together emit more CO2 than the aviation industry.
Join us for a discussion on the future of digital waste, led by Marina Otero Verzier, as we address the urgent need for sustainable waste management in our online worlds. Linger on the digital waste production in a sonic exploration with Cardboard Lamb.
TALK | Data Mourning
by Marina Otero Verzier
Data Mourning explores future models for digital storage and suggests alternative approaches to our relationship with data. The project delves into the environmental implications of the so-called 'cloud', especially the significant water and energy demands of the servers and computing systems that manage our data, as well as the waste result of technological obsolescence and degradation of storage media over time. Through metabolic processes, it connects the sheer computational energy required to decipher the mysteries of life's origin with the terrestrial processes that renew it. As supercomputers simulate the universe's expansion, their functioning leads to irreversible changes, affecting organic life through cycles of composition and decomposition. These processes intertwine vast cosmic timelines with computational and earthly dynamics, positioning data storage architectures beyond a human-centric perspective.
Marina Otero Verzier
Marina Otero Verzier is an architect and researcher currently teaching at Columbia University GSAPP in New York. Previously, was Head of the Social Design Masters at Design Academy Eindhoven (2020-2023) and the Director of Research at Het Nieuwe Instituut (2015-2022), where she led initiatives such as “Automated Landscapes”, focusing on the emerging architectures of automated labour, and “BURN-OUT: Exhaustion on a planetary scale”, instigating forms of care for multispecies, collective bodies. Otero has been a co-curator at the Shanghai Art Biennial 2021, curator of the Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2018, and chief curator of the 2016 Oslo Architecture Triennale. She has co-edited Automated Landscapes (2023), Lithium: States of Exhaustion (2021) More-than-Human (2020), Architecture of Appropriation (2019), Work, Body, Leisure (2018), and After Belonging (2016), among others. Recently she won the prestigious GSD Wheelwright Prize with her proposal “Future Storage: Architectures to Host the Metaverse,” examining new architecture paradigms for storing data and how reimagining digital infrastructures could meet the unprecedented demands facing the world today.
Cara Mayer is Cardboard Lamb. As a DJ, she cares about narrative radio – mixing ambient, experimental electronics, and various iterations of wave and folk with film clips, field recordings, and poetry along a chosen theme.
She is a resident at Mutant Radio in Tbilisi with a bi-monthly show exploring Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, as well as a student studying the sonics, poetics, and politics of spaces at Sandberg’s Studio for Immediate Spaces. Outside of DJing, Cara is a music programmer at Radio Tempo Não Pàra, and has worked as a
writer, host, and radio-maker for Pinkman Records, Operator, and Future Intel. Sounds like / Recommended for fans of Birds, sad DJs with a sense of humor, those who’d prefer the dance floor to be a trembling pumpkin patch with a fog machine, discordant folk lovingly dug up by a variety of ageing Belgian men, Jack Rollo’s Early Bird Show, electro-punk from Düsseldorf, your upstairs neighbour who practices the saxophone each night at eight, on the dot.