The Rutgers-Camden Archive of Digital Ephemera (R-CADE) provides scholars and artists the opportunity to do hands-on work with digital ephemera. The 2019 Symposium will take place April 19, 2019 at Rutgers University-Camden, which is accessible from Philadelphia International Airport and by rail lines. The deadline to submit panel proposals is November 30, 2018.
The R-CADE defines ephemera broadly––nearly any digital artifact can be considered “digital ephemera,” from early videogames like Spacewar! to spam to game consoles to websites like Friendster. Given the pervasiveness of planned obsolescence, there are seemingly infinite technologies that fit the category of “digital ephemera.” Unlike many archives, the R-CADE does not necessarily aim to preserve artifacts, at least not in the traditional sense of this word. Scholars are encouraged to take apart, dissect, and repurpose technologies as they attempt to understand their significance, explore possibilities, and retell the histories of digital technology. While the R-CADE does not preserve in the sense of keeping objects in their “original” condition, the archive is in fact an exercise in the preservation of digital culture. By allowing for the study and exploration of digital ephemera, the R-CADE aims to ensure these digital artifacts a place in our histories and our various scholarly conversations. R-CADE research outcomes may be presented in various formats including papers, lectures, remakes, hacks, performances, art objects, and other media forms.
2019 TOPIC: TRASH
Panelists for the 2019 R-CADE Symposium are invited to address the topic of “Trash.” It’s easy to consider digital life in terms of an abundance of space. Photos are immediately saved to the cloud, and even spam is archived in our Gmail accounts. The ‘Trash’ icon on our desktop is vestigial, left over from a time when hard drives were smaller. However, the notion that the digital offers infinite resources is a fiction. The Internet is not an unlimited space of pure virtuality; it is a collection of server farms gobbling up energy spewing carbon dioxide. Our digital trash is taking up space. Digital devices are constructed from mined materials that exploit workers, environments, and economies, and those same devices are often dumped without much concern for environmental impact. Digital content clutters our attention and our servers. In short, digital trash has a real, material impact on the world around us.
Research in media studies has urged us to think of glitches, spam, and computer viruses as more than just defects, as something other than the flaws of our systems. This work has pushed researchers and artists to consider these portions of digital culture not as bugs but as features. Trash is part of our digital infrastructure. This year’s R-CADE symposium invites this kind of approach to trash. We invite panel submissions that understand digital trash or e-waste as more than just the leftovers of our digital lives.
R-CADE panels take up a single technology, object, or device from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Possible topics and approaches to this year’s theme include but are not limited to:
- •What counts as trash in various media ecologies, and how is that trash discarded, reused, saved, or ignored?
- •What new lives might be imagined for hardware and software that is now considered obsolete?
- •How do we understand the platforms and tools that we have abandoned to the trash heap?
- •From word processing software to social media to hardware peripherals, the upgrade path means that we often leave older technologies in the dust? What does this say about our digital practices, and what might we do with such abandonware?
- •What are our forgotten digital spaces, spaces that we have moved to the category of trash? What do we learn by returning to them?
- •What are the political and social ramifications of digital trash?
- •How should we understand digital trash in the context of global economies and flows of goods?
- •How is trash dealt with on social media platforms, and what new approaches might we take to these filtering processes?
Each accepted panel will receive a budget of up to $1,300 for the purchase of hardware, software, or any other materials necessary for research or creative work. The R-CADE Symposium will take place during the course of a single day, and each panel will share the results of their work.
Panel proposals must include the following:
- • Detailed description of the technology that the panel will address
- • Discussion of why this technology is of interest to artists and scholars as well as a provisional list of the research questions panelists will ask and/or creative methods panelists plan to use while exploring the technology
- • Detailed budget and budget justification for the panel (maximum $1,300)
- • Bios of each panelist (preference will be given to interdisciplinary panels)
- • Expected outcome of the research and/or creative activity and a plan for how that outcome can be shared on the R-CADE website.
Scholars and artists on accepted panels will work during the months leading up to the conference by examining, researching, and/or repurposing their shared object of study. Each panelist is free to engage the object in whatever way they see fit. They may choose to conduct an analysis of the object, to dismantle the object, and/or to develop creative work that engages it. Regardless of what panelists choose to do or make, projects should take advantage of the R-CADE’s ethos of hands-on engagement. Researchers and artists should feel free to take apart, remake, reprogram, and circuit-bend objects.
Attendees will share the results of their work at the R-CADE Symposium, which will take place April 19, 2019 at Rutgers University-Camden. Rutgers-Camden sits adjacent to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is accessible by PHL International Airport as well as rail lines. Lodging information will be available in December.