The media infrastructures and digital networks of the 21st century has transformed the environment in drastic ways, making it necessary to describe and analyze new media ecologies.
New media have, like nothing else, transformed life in the 21st century. The ubiquitous presence of digital technologies – ranging from optical fiber networks and a geography of server halls to sensor topographies, cellphones, wearables, and implants – define more and more the conditions of everyday life, and have had enormous environmental, epistemic, economic, aesthetic, political, and social consequence.
A new ecology of bodies, discourses, and machines has emerged, which demands a description and an analysis that re-considers the technical artifact and explores the boundaries between humans and their surroundings. Nature and culture are always intertwined and merged, e.g. minerals become components in digital hardware and circulate in society before eventually turning into e-waste, once again mixing with water and earth.
This also makes it possible, even feasible to approach ‘natural’ phenomena as media, especially if we consider media as something “providing conditions for existence” and as “infrastructures and forms of life” rather than as simple channels for communication, to quote John Durham Peters. Such a perspective can offer new accounts and narratives of our dealings with the environment – new ‘environmental imaginaries’ – that expand and transform the stories of nature.
Such and related issues are addressed and analyzed in the research area Media Ecologies in The Seed Box Program. For further reading about the research area and its projects, see below.