Digital Media and Borders: Infrastructures, Mobilities, Practices Across Asia and Beyond
The Alison Lam Foundation Council Chamber, G/F, Wong Administration Building, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
7-9 DEC 2017
The global data center chain Equinix presents itself as an “interconnection leader” and invites potential clients visiting its website to look up a data center by specifying the desired location. Does it matter where the data center is located? Despite the much advertised immaterial qualities of digital communication, this workshop proposes that it does, yet critical accounts are overdue.
Hence this workshop examines the spatial relations that digital infrastructure either makes part of while situated in particular environments, or that it generates as its conduits mediate and reconstitute regions, territories, and borders. In the case of some data centers in Hong Kong, what matters is not a presence in the central business district but physical proximity to the stock exchange’s data center in the peripheral New Territories. Other data centers stand out for their connection to geographically specific premium networks of interoperable servers and databases. With databases come platforms and techno-political projections of territory and difference that translate place into geolocation, hence supporting emerging modes of governmentality and control.
What would it mean to study digital infrastructure by looking at Asia, along with studying Asia by looking at infrastructure? In order to situate and emplace digital infrastructure critically, this workshop treats infrastructure not so much as a “thing,” but as a liminal site: while materially connective, the network presents itself to the senses only partially; and while globally integrative, bodies relate to it in different ways. Mapping connections and comparing differences across Asia and beyond can help us look anew at such problematics, if not glimpse something new. Coming to terms with the limitations of dominant narratives informed by European/American experiences of digital infrastructure, this workshop sets out to imagine further possibilities for digital rights, resistance, communication, and design.
This workshop was made possible thanks to the generous funding by Lingnan University, Office of Research Support, and Kwan Fong Cultural Research and Development Programme.
Organizational support: Jay Lau
Web design: Eunsoo Lee