The aim of the new research project “Recycling Media: Sustainability and Obsolescence” is to theoretically reflect upon the life cycle of cultural objects and media practices. In a time where environmental issues are high on political agendas, the Humanities can no longer stay away from issues such as (cultural) waste and obsolescence – from electronic waste to the future of dead media, from the conservation of art works with biological elements to the performativity of old archives, from digital games that can no longer be played to the overproduction and -use of paper. Related issues are the tension between materiality and immateriality, between analog and digital, between eternal and biodegradable.
In terms of sustainability, we will investigate how to preserve cultural practices despite their instability, their ephemerality and their ongoing decay, by creating new concepts to theorize this process and by proposing new strategies of conservation. In terms of obsolescence, we will look at media concepts and artifacts in constant transformation and analyze their survival worldwide: Where does all this (cultural) waste end up? How and where are (cultural) objects recycled, reused?
The first year of the project will be dedicated to exploring the field, by reading classical and recent publications on media ecology, media archaeology and media art. The reading group meets on a monthly basis, each first (or second) Friday of the month. Participation is open to all members of ASCA. Guests may also register. Registration is by simple e-mail to Wanda Strauven (email@example.com).