Liam Young, 09 05 11

From the Data Archaeology Lab in the Architectural Association’s Unknown Fields Division 09/10 Arctic Circle studio run by TTT’s Liam Young and Kate Davies comes Data Fossils by Tobias Jewson. Tobias, with Ioana Iliesu have explored what happens to our collective history when everything is digital. In the digital era our information no longer takes the form of the physical, but that of a electronic file stored in ‘the cloud’. Our collective history is quickly effaced from this fragile and ephemeral domain, a computer crashes, formats are quickly obsolete, a hard drive is lost and all is gone. With our attachment to physical objects and mementos becoming increasingly superseded by our relationship to information, what will we leave for future generations?

The project employs design speculation as a critical tool to explore the potential ways in which architecture and landscape may respond to our ever evolving digital fascination. ‘Data Fossils’ has evolved as a series of fictional scenarios grounded in technically rigorous physical and computational investigations. Real techniques have been developed for encoding digital information in the physical world at both individual and collective scales.

Advances in biocomputing are allowing the possibility of storing data in living, physical forms. As the division between our bodies and the digital becomes increasingly blurred, the bone’s ability to remodel itself, in response to stress, can be hacked to provide data storage. Polyps of calcified binary code become written onto our skeleton, recounting our digital identities.

A teenage informational glutton comes for a surgery consult, his skin stretched with the growths of excessive music and porn downloads. His hoarded browser bookmarks cripple his every movement.

A poet’s finest sonnet is read like Braille through his skin, prostitutes steal the secrets of their bussness clients through gentle carresses of their naked body.

The treasured remains of a loved one becomes an archaeology of memories.

An illegal immigrant hacks and grafts fragments of data bone into his own body in an attempt to conceal his true identity. His airport xray scan reveals the extensive titanium grafts typical of data identity theft.

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