[ISEA2018] Workshop: Nathaniel Stern, Sam Tan, Jenna Marti & Olivia Overturf — Server Farms

Workshop Statement

Turn e-waste into contemporary planters! 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. We 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? Bring your old computers, phones, and tablets, some plants, dirt, and/or seed, and we will help you along!

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, the team, led by Nathaniel Stern, along with Jenna Marti, Sam Tan, and Olivia Overturf, has tried to turn phones into crude oil, coal, or other fossil fuels – and put the results on exhibit, in beakers and tubes (Phossils). We 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). We 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).

  • Nathaniel Stern, Sam Tan, Jenna Marti & Olivia Overturf, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, USA  nathanielstern.com

Supported by the Nohl Suitcase Fund, UWM Research Growth Initiative, UWM Office of Undergraduate Research