Keynote: Environmental Data and The Materiality of Media

Over the past two years, our project Design and Aesthetics for Environmental Data (funded by Aarhus University Research Foundation) has been investigating questions related to the materiality of data. Building on the project and linking it to recent approaches, concepts, and ideas in ecomedia/environmental media research, this talk will elaborate on what the focus on the spatial materiality of environmental data might entail. What sort of an image of “media studies” emerges from work that looks at both spatial sites of sensing and the software and data techniques where “environments” are being managed and circulated, modelled and simulated. Through such perspectives, media studies enters into
a conversation with for example software and critical data studies, as well as with infrastructure studies, while also developing ways to account for the ecological impact of digital media. This can be linked to the expanded interest on the constituent materials of media as technologies – energy and minerals. And it also can include the task of developing concepts and methods that really signal the situated role of the discipline in the broader historical context of the current environmental crisis. One of the approaches our project has developed include curatorial and artistic methods to reach new audiences.

Dr Jussi Parikka is professor of digital aesthetics and culture at Aarhus University where he co-directs with Henrik Bødker and Anette Vandsø the new research program Environmental Media & Aesthetics. He is also the director of the Digital Aesthetics Research Centre (DARC). Parikka is the author of several books on media theory, network culture, and environmental media, including What is Media Archaeology? (2012), Insect Media (2010), and A Geology of Media (2015). His recent books include the co-authored Lab Book: Situated Practices in Media Studies (2022, with Lori Emerson and Darren Wershler) as well as Operational Images (2023). His most recent book Living Surfaces: Images, Plants, and Environments of Media (2024, with Abelardo Gil-Fournier). Parikka’s books have been translated into 11 languages including Japanese, Korean, Czech, Turkish, Italian, and French.