A lecture by Marina Otero Verzier ’13 MSCCCP on her current research initiative “Future Storage: Architectures to Host the Metaverse,” which was recently awarded Harvard GSD’s 2022 Wheelwright Prize. This event is co-organized by the GSAPP Dean’s Office and the MS in Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices in Architecture program at GSAPP.
The exponential growth in digital data production and the associated demand for data storage significantly impact the environment. Fuelled by outdated ideas of progress and endless growth, the digital industry depends on extractivist practices that result in vast energy consumption, land occupation, and CO2 emissions. The creation of alternative, digital worlds is not only outpacing the scalability of current storage solutions but also putting the shared world at risk. The concept of “Data Mourning” acknowledges the interconnectedness between the digital and physical realms and considers the entire lifecycle of digital data, from its production to its decay and eventual disposal. It approaches data storage from a finite resource perspective, accepting the inevitability of data decay as a reminder of the fragility of the digital realm. In this context, letting go of digital data that has become redundant, outdated, or no longer needed becomes paramount. Just as we mourn the loss of physical objects, places, and people, data mourning recognizes digital data’s emotional and cultural significance and the need for new practices for letting it go.
Marina Otero Verzier is Head of the MA Social Design Masters at Design Academy Eindhoven. In 2022 she received Harvard’s Wheelwright Prize for a project on the future of data storage. From 2015 to 2022, she was the Director of Research at HNI, where she led initiatives focused on labor, extraction, and mental health from a post-anthropocentric perspective, including “Automated Landscapes,” and “BURN-OUT.” Otero has curated exhibitions such as the Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2018 and the 2016 Oslo Architecture Triennale and co-edited Lithium: States of Exhaustion (2021), More-than-Human (2020), Architecture of Appropriation (2019), Work, Body, Leisure (2018), among others. In 2013, as a Fulbright Scholar, she graduated from the M.S. in Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices in Architecture at Columbia University GSAPP. She completed her PhD at ETSAM in 2016.
Otero is a co-editor of Unmanned: Architecture and Security Series (2016), After Belonging: The Objects, Spaces, and Territories of the Ways We Stay In Transit (2016), Architecture of Appropriation (2019), More-than-Human (forthcoming, 2020), and editor of Work, Body, Leisure (2018).
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Photo credit: Boudewijn Bollmann