Digital Materialities / Digital Imaginaries

Dr Helen Pritchard is a speaker at the Digital Materialities / Digital Imaginaries symposium – 3 Nov 2021, 16:00 – 17:30.

From high-profile controversies, such as the creation of e-wastes or the carbon footprint of Bitcoin, to subtler and even invisible influences, digital technologies can have profound ecological impacts. In this roundtable discussion our four speakers will explore the materiality of the digital, and ask what can be done at all levels to make our digital world more sustainable. What emerging digital technologies may also play a role in mitigating and adapting to climate change, and where do the perils and pitfalls lie? How might digital technologies even change the way we think about ‘the human’ and our place within the planetary ecology? And what are the biggest questions we should be asking ourselves about digital technologies today? This is the first of two events on Climate Crisis and the Digital Humanities, jointly hosted by CDCS, the Turing Humanities and Data Science Interest Group, the Sussex Humanities Lab and University of Southampton DH.


Artist Heba Y. Amin engages with political themes and archival history, using mediums including film, photography, archival material, lecture performance and installation. Her artistic research takes a speculative, often satirical, approach to challenging narratives of conquest and control. Amin is a Professor of Digital and Time-Based art at ABK-Stuttgart, the co-founder of the Black Athena Collective, curator of visual art for the MIZNA journal, and currently sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Digital War. She was awarded the 2020 Sussmann Artist Award for artists committed to the ideals of democracy and antifascism, and was selected as a Field of Vision Fellow, NYC (2019). Amin’s work has been shown in numerous exhibitions including The Mosaic Rooms, London (2021), the Böttcherstrasse Prize Exhibition, Bremen (2018), Eye Film Museum, Amsterdam (2020), Quai Branly Museum, Paris (2020), MAXXI Museum, Rome (2018), Liverpool Biennial (2021), 10th Berlin Biennale (2018), 15th Istanbul Biennale (2017), and 12th Dak’Art Biennale (2016), to name a few. Her latest publication, Heba Y. Amin: The General’s Stork (ed. Anthony Downey) was recently published by Sternberg Press (2020) and her works and interventions have been covered by The New York Times, The Guardianthe Intercept, and BBC among others. Furthermore, Amin is also one of the artists behind the subversive graffiti action on the set of the television series “Homeland” which received worldwide media attention.

DrHelen V. Pritchard is an artist-designer and geographer whose work considers the impacts of computation and digital media on social and environmental justice. Their research addresses how practices configure the possibilities for life—or who gets to have a life—in intimate and significant ways. As a practitioner they work together with companions to make propositions and designs for environmental media and computing otherwise, developing methods to uphold a politics of queer survival and practice. They are currently working on the book project “Animal Hackers and Critter Compilers”; together with Eric Snodgrass researching “Regenerative Energy Communities” and working with “The Institute of Technology in the Public Interest”. Helen is an Associate Professor of Queer Feminist Technoscience & Digital Design at i-DAT, University of Plymouth, a visiting research with Citizen Sense and a research fellow at Goldsmiths University of London. They are the co-editor of “Data Browser 06: Executing Practices”, published by Open Humanities Press (2018) and Science, Technology and Human Values: Sensors and Sensing Practices (2019).

Nathan Ensmenger is an associate professor of Informatics in the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. His research focuses on social and organizational issues related to software work and workers.  His 2010 book, The Computer Boys Take Over: Computers, Programmers, and the Politics of Technical Expertise, traced the emergence of the “computer expert” as a major force in American corporate and government organizations.  His research on the gendered nature of computer labor has helped frame contemporary discussions about women and work in Silicon Valley.  He is one of the co-authors of the most recent edition of the popular Computer: A History of the Information Machine.  He is currently working on a book exploring the global environmental history of the electronic digital computer.  His work on AI ethics focuses on algorithmic bias, risk, and the future of work.

Wilko Graf von Hardenberg is a Senior Research Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. His research focuses on how nature has been historically perceived, appraised, and managed and how each of these aspects has affected the other two. Consequently he has worked on different facets of modern European environmental history, including the politics of fascist regimes, the history of access rights, and the preservation of iconic animal species in the Alps. Moreover, he has a thriving interest in the use of digital tools and methods in historical research. His current research focuses on the intellectual history of the Anthropocene and, in general, of theories of anthropogenic environmental change. In the specific the research project looks at the development of the concept of mean sea-level and at the history of the different ways in which the level of the sea has been understood and interpreted in the modern age. Wilko holds an Italian Laurea in history (Università di Torino) and a PhD in geography (University of Cambridge). He has previously been DAAD Visiting Professor of Environmental History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a  Carson Fellow and then the Digital Humanities Research Specialist at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich.

This panel will be chaired by Dr James Baker, Director of University of Southampton DH.