Digital sustainability: how to move beyond the oxymoron

Published on March 27th, 2019

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Can digital art be made to last in a sustainable way?

Prensentation @ Exhibition Laboratorium, Helsinki
Monday 8 April, 6pm


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 I want to discuss the oxymoron ‘digital sustainability’. By acknowledging this inherent contradiction, in the research I aim 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, I want to explore the potential of ‘networks of care’ to create, build and maintain digital cultural heritage in a sustainable way.


Made possible as part of the Resident Fellowship at Uniarts Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts, supported by the Saastamoinen Foundation, Helsinki.

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