Digital Matters: The Earth Behind the Screen

Galleries 1 & 2

Lin Ke
MAP Office
Ellen Pau
Dani Ploeger
Unknown Fields
Yang Yongliang

3 November –
4 February 2018

Launch event
Thursday 2 November
6pm – 8pm

Digital Matters Symposium
Friday 3 November
10:30am – 5pm

Whilst the world is increasingly dependent on digital technologies, the physical impact of the electronics we use daily is often ignored. The complex internal structures of a mobile phone or a PC require not only the extraction of natural resources but also thousands of unique parts to be manufactured and disposed of in a cycle of production that enables us to engage in the digital realm. However, as the scale and potentially harmful impact of these processes becomes greater we must ask ourselves what is the social and environmental cost of our consumer desires?

Digital Matters: the earth behind the screen is a group exhibition exploring the relationship between the natural and the technological through artworks produced in Hong Kong and China. The participating artists attempt to interrogate the material foundations of our contemporary digital universe and its related socio-political and environmental concerns.

Artist duo MapOffice explore the numerous territorial disputes in the South and East China seas, in which the exhaustion of natural resources is a key issue. Design research studio Unknown Fields use animation and film to document the global production chain of electronic devices revealing the terrifying natural and social consequences of mineral extraction. New media artist Lin Ke playfully visualises nature in the era of climate change using only familiar software packages and his Mac’s user interface. Similarly, Yang Yongliang’s detailed digital motifs evolve from the traditional Chinese landscape tradition to question uncontrolled urbanisation and industrialisation in China, and how traditional customs and heritage are being forgotten and destroyed in the process. Ellen Pau and Dani Ploeger invite audiences to consider the threats of global production and consumption of electronics and start conversations about our role as consumers.

Curated by Marianna Tsionki (Research Curator, CFCCA & University of Salford) under the aegis of Manchester Metropolitan University as part of a curatorial industry based PhD.

Find out more about the Digital Matters Symposium held in conjunction with the exhibition on Friday 3 November, here.

Lin Ke, Robinson Crusoe (2011). Installation view. Image courtesy of the artist.