THE DEEP TIME OF MEDIA: The Geological Materiality of Planetary Computing

ARC453H1 F
Instructor: TBC
Meeting Section: L0101
Fall 2022

The myth of dematerializing infrastructure and the post-industrial economy hides an essentially colonial truth: we are industrializing at a faster rate than ever before.

Planetary-scale computing relies on a heavy, energy- and resource-hungry globe-spanning physical apparatus, from subsea cables and server farms to the lithium and rare earth mines in the Global South that furnish them. Beginning with a historical perspective on the development of communication networks,The Deep Time of Media will trace the nature and ecology of the contemporary spaces and infrastructural-logistical systems that comprise what Benjamin H. Bratton terms the accidental megastructure.

While Marshall McLuhan saw media as “extensions of man,” The Deep Time of Media addresses the materiality of technology as Robert Smithson describes, “made from the raw materials of the earth.” Students will be tasked through case studies to develop a critical language to address the physical, ecological, and geological footprint of “the post-industrial.”