Digital sustainability: how to move beyond the oxymoron

Monday, April 8, 2019 - 18:00
Exhibition Laboratory

Can digital art be made to last in a sustainable way? It is no surprise that artists are keen to use and respond to new material in their practices. With every new invention, throughout the years, museum conservators tried to follow and adapted their working methods to the new challenges. Similarly, with the rise of digital artworks conservators try to think of solutions to preserve the collected artworks. While this works well in some cases, in many cases changes to the artwork happen as most hardware and software follow the design of planned-obsolescence. As a consequence endless migration and/or emulation projects are set up to prolong the working of digital art.

It makes sense to use upgraded technology to keep an artwork going. Yet this enduring rat race becomes questionable when thinking about the environmental impact of digitals. In this presentation, Dr. Annet Dekker discusses the oxymoron ‘digital sustainability’. By acknowledging this inherent contradiction, in her research she aims to critically inquire what it means for digital technology to support sustainability and how humans and technology can work together optimally for a more sustainable future. As a first step, she wants to explore the potential of ‘networks of care’ to create, build and maintain digital cultural heritage in a sustainable way.

Dr. Annet Dekker is a researcher and curator specialized in digital art. She is currently Assistant Professor of Archival Science at the University of Amsterdam and a Visiting Professor and Co-Director at the Centre for the Study of the Networked Image, London South Bank University. Her numerous publications include Collecting and Conserving Net Art: Moving beyond Conventional Methods (Routledge, 2018).

 In spring 2019, Annet Dekker is a Saastamoinen Foundation Resident Fellow at Uniarts Helsinki's Academy of Fine Arts. The Resident Fellow programme offers opportunities for creative work and experimentation annually for two artists, writers and theorists.