Dissertation in field of media: MA Samir Bhowmik

You are cordially invited to the Defence of Doctoral Dissertation of MA Samir Bhowmik:

Deep Time of the Museum.
The Materiality of Media Infrastructures.

2nd of December 2016, 12.00–14.00
Media Factory Auditorium
3rd floor, Hämeentie 135 A
00560, Helsinki, FI
(Enter the building from Arabiakeskus’ doors, stairs on the right after the coffee shop, go one floor up and take left. Media Factory is opposite to the Aalto bookstore.)

The dissertation aims to address the ecological impact of museums and digital heritage. It suggests a design framework towards sustainability.

Opponent: PhD Susanna Pettersson, Ateneum Art Museum
Custos: professor Lily Diáz, Aalto University Department of Media.

Discussion will be held in English.


The museum has a ‘material bias’. Beyond the materiality of artifacts, vitrines and dioramas, media technologies for digitization, collections and representation play an ever expanding role today in the fostering of cultural heritage. An enormous amount of media systems and infrastructures are required to maintain and support emerging museum spaces and practices. Composed of a complex and historical body of media devices, most of these are an assortment of black-boxed proprietary hardware and software technologies. Energy footprints have expanded and embodied energy remains undocumented. Behind every act of digitization and mediation lies a chain of data centers, rare earth mining, silicon chip manufacturing and dystopian toxic lakes. The life-span of this media infrastructure is limited and obsolescence drives a perpetual upgrading, resulting in colossal digital rubbish and toxic waste. What is the environmental burden carried by museums? What is the material and energetic footprint of digital heritage? How can the cultural assets of memory institutions be sustained? Through a multi-disciplinary and critical approach to museum infrastructures the dissertation aims to address the ecological impact of museums and digital heritage. First, via an extensive excavation of the museum as a media infrastructure the study seeks to understand the materiality of digital heritage as based in the growing entanglements of media devices, energy and material resources. The study then presents two experimental design interventions within and beyond the museum walls. These were implemented to explore novel ecological media infrastructures and operative methods. Finally, combining these with concepts found from the excavation, a design framework is synthesized that provides guidelines for museums and their user communities toward shaping an ecological institution.

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