The environmental panel comprising of artist Joana Moll, Vladan Joler and Dr Sarah Mander mediated on the opaque production system which masks and makes us complicit in the damaging social and environmental impact of our technologies. The digital has a heavy materiality, the media we use is an extension of the earth, everything we do online leaves a footprint- data centres contribute to 3% of the world’s CO2 emissions- more than the aviation industry. How can we make this tangible and visible?
The fractal production processes employed by technology companies have delocalised production, making it impossible to trace our devices catastrophic social and environmental impact. The iphone has over 250 separate companies involved in its manufacture. Which only consolidates exploitation of both labour practices and the environment. The guilt is usually placed on the user. However, 85% of the iPhones CO2 footprint is created during the production process. Not in the hands of the user. And having the option to opt out is often a matter of privilege. The key to changing this is making systems of production and labour more transparent. Alongside educating in systems thinking and the complexity that these naturally entail.
Whilst we seek to immerse ourselves, we are are already wrapped up in an atmosphere, an atmosphere shaped by human hands. I wanted to attend the conference in order to meditate on the opacity of production and technology but also the role and the annexation of history by technologists and science companies. History is often sanitised and wielded as a tool to justify or glorify present actions. Heritage, nostalgia, technology, progress are all woven into one another. They create narratives and tell stories which mislead often with devastating effect. How can we harness history, ‘rewind’ the voices of victims of ‘progress’ and industry? I would say I’m a techno- skeptic and I am disheartened by the rhetoric which positions technology and its socio-political and environmental consequences as inevitable. These are fictions, fictions deeply embedded and constantly reiterated into society in order to reinforce systems of power and presumptions of progress.