Server Farms

This work / series is in progress from late 2017 until the end of 2018. All photos by Jenna Marti.

Server Farms are, in their simplest form, computers and other technological equipment repurposed as planters. A gutted iMac, face up, where the screen and motherboard are replaced with wheat grass. A Mac Pro growing cacti and succulents, embedded in sand. A Dell, filled with house plants. Each of these is pictured above. I may also root trees in laptops, grow molds and fungi in and around tablets, inject watches, phones, and cameras with spores and microscopic life – then let each flower, flourish, incubate, and spread.

What life may spur, how might techno-minerals diffuse?

Along with Phossils and Re:Cyclings (forthcoming), Server Farms are part of The World After Us: a new series and exhibition of media sculptures that materially speculate on what our devices – phones and tablets, batteries and displays, etc – might become, over thousands or millions of years. Through research, experimentation, and craft, I will try (and likely fail) to turn phones into crude oil, coal, or other fossil fuels – and put the results on exhibit, in beakers and tubes (Phossils). I will attempt to mimic geological time, as pressure and heat, with earth and clay – through chemical interactions or specialized machinery – on laptops and tablets, then display where that potential lies, as petrified-like LCDs or mangled post-exploded batteries, on pedestals in a gallery (also Phossils). I hope to turn “dead media” computers into efficient planters for edible goods, food for mold, or seeds of their own growth – and show both those experiments, and their results, as photos, videos, and sculptural forms (Server Farms). I will also turn ground phones into usable supplies – for example, color for ink and pulp for paper – and put these to use in these new forms: in the cases given, as fine art prints (Re:Cyclings).

It is impossible for humans to truly fathom our planet on an Earth scale, or conversely from the perspective of bacteria. But we can feel such things, through art and storytelling – making our aesthetic encounters both conceptually and ethically vital toward new futures. The World After Us questions how we move, think, feel, and act with the Earth and its inhabitants, both living and otherwise. At stake, whether in our everyday interactions or on a larger scale, are the (digital) relationships between humans and the natural world on the one hand, between politics and commerce on the other.