Sy Taffel – Postgrowth Media Ecologies: Degrowth and Digital Technologies
Media Ecologies Lecture Series
fieldstations, field, agent, station, anthropocene, technosphere, sense, adapt, create, network, research, knowledge, education, environment, systemic balance, berlin, munich, ghent, basel
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Sy Taffel – Postgrowth Media Ecologies: Degrowth and Digital Technologies

Sy Taffel will kick of the lecture series on Media Ecology with a lecture titled Postgrowth Media Ecologies: Degrowth and Digital Technologies

Exponential growth has been a key marker of ‘progress’ throughout the history of computational media and digital culture. Emblematic of this vector of growth is Moore’s law, the prediction made by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore that the number of transistors within a microchip would double biannually, which has roughly held for almost fifty years. Elsewhere, we can look at phenomena from the number of digital devices sold each year, to the volume of data stored in the ‘cloud’, or the energy costs of training AI systems and see similar trajectories of exponential growth.

Conversely, recent years have seen interest in degrowth and postgrowth perspectives which contend that growthism is fundamentally incompatible with sustainability. This largely arises from decades of globalised capitalism’s thoroughgoing failure to adequately address the climate crisis by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, coupled with growing evidence that climate change is only one of several breaches to planetary boundaries that threated to destabilise the Earth system. Degrowth and postgrowth positions contend that ecological crises cannot be resolved without rapid reductions in GHG emissions and material use at a global level, and that an equitable transition requires a radical redistribution of resources and wealth and a system of planning to enact this.

While digital technologies are positioned as central to ‘green growth’, degrowth productively challenges whether this dominant narrative is likely to produce equitable or sustainable futures. This talk transposes concepts of conviviality, radical abundance and limits that are central to degrowth and postgrowth perspectives, considering how they could reorient digital ecologies away from commodification, dataveillance, and ecological breakdown.

Sy Taffel is a Senior Lecturer in Media Studies and co-director of the Political Ecology Research Centre at Massey University, Aotearoa-New Zealand. He is the author of Digital Media Ecologies (Bloomsbury 2019) and an editor of two interdisciplinary collections focussed on contemporary environmental issues. His current research project explores potential intersections between digital technology and degrowth.

The lecture will happen online please register here:

The lecture series is moderated and curated by prof. Corneel Cannaerts, Fieldstation Studio Ghent, KU Leuven Faculty of Architecture