With four billion users in 2018, the Internet alters the way we perceive place, landscape and distance. Our reality is merging with the virtual world in various ways, from immediately available global information to augmented and virtual realities, we constantly experience new combinations of the analog reality with digital information, harder to distinguish with every new generation of tech.
These virtual, almost infinite landscapes create a state of translocality, everything is just a fingertip away, yet remains a representation of reality in binary code, brought to us by the biggest machine mankind has ever created – the Internet.
The factories of this age are the datacenters, connecting people and machines from around the globe, information the resource to be harvested and processed. Norrbotten is one of the industrial hubs of this intangible global complex, where the internet and the digital economy manifest in the physical world. Boden hosts bitcoin mines and Luleå one of the largest datacenters on the planet, both cities became a home for thriving startup scenes, while rural settlements in Norrbotten see new economic perspectives as to cater for inhabitants employed in virtual offices, providing work that is possible to do from any given place with an internet connection. Regional authorities continue to attract data centers to Norrbotten, in the hope for strengthening the cluster of digital industry that creates not only jobs in datacenters, but also attracts specialists and talents to the local digital sector.
In culture, libraries, archives and museum collections from around the globe become accessible from practically everybody’s home. Live-streams and recordings of performances, of theatre plays, concerts and movies are readily available for everyone, anytime anywhere. But how does it differ to watch a cultural production home alone in front of a digital display from enjoying it out in town with peers and people you share a common interest with?
Havremagsinet hosted – after the period of its primary function as an oat storage for the military from 1913 to 1971 – a storage for military maps used in battle by the thousands. Today, traces of 1980s and 1990s digital infra-structure can be found in the house, by which the function of the building was rendered redundant for a second time – the military map facility ceased its operation in the house in early 2000.
Not only has digitalization altered our society and our surroundings, but much more so the way we perceive reality and how we behave, it changed our inner, emotional landscape. The information age allowed for developing new modes to access the world, fundamentally altering our behavior patterns and eventually cognitive abilities. The resulting impact of Digitalization on the societal development, on social structures and the individual is hard to assess due to the velocity and complexity of change we are confronted with. As an example, the short period of optimism during the beginnings of the Arab Spring, soon made us realize the potential of Social Media on society.
What are the driving forces behind this rapidly developing digital infrastructure, what is driving it and how does it change the way we organize our society? How can we contribute to steering the development of digitalization? Is it an enabler of global equality or has it opened the floodgates for neoliberal economies? Can it turn against our democratic society? And last, but not least; how can the artist’s perspective contribute to reflecting upon this tremendous impact happening at overwhelming speed?
Information about participating artists are soon to be published.