Issue 3/2021

Digital Ecology

How do digitization and sustainability fit together? How to reconcile, on the one hand, production that is increasingly outsourced to the digital world or is inherently rooted in that context and, on the other hand, concern about resource scarcity, environmental issues and humankind’s inexorably expanding CO2 footprint on Earth? It long seemed that there was scarcely any connection between the increasing technological thrust of information and communication media and the question of how long a stable ecological balance can be maintained. It was likewise also long the case that scant attention was paid to the connection between artistic means of production (and reception) and consumption of natural or artificial resources. That is currently beginning to change, thanks at least in part to the many artists who consciously and reflectively incorporate ecological questions into their work. In economic and cultural theory terms, the more profound and longer term ramifications of day-to-day handling and utilization of the digital sphere are also becoming increasingly apparent in environmental terms. In addition, there is already speculation as whether fittingly deployed artificial intelligence could possibly guarantee greater ecological sustainability than solutions dreamt up by human beings (that are usually immediately nipped in the bud). The “Digital Ecology” issue examines the tangible potentials and implications of this connection. Will electric sheep find themselves dealing with less environmentally destructive androids and will post-human subjects even have dreams about the future? This long overdue thematic issue speculates on all these topics.

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Ines Doujak