Inspired by the Anthropocene, media artist Stephen Cornford speculates on the deep future of electronic waste as it sediments into Earth’s stratigraphic record. By applying geological techniques to a hypothetical “technofossil”, he seeks to materialise an inevitable scenario where discarded technologies become part of the planet’s geology. Colourful microscope imagery combines with analyses of elementary composition and details on the origin of the indispensable metals used in the production of today’s technological devices. Essays by Siobhan Angus, Jan Zalasiewicz, and Cornford himself reflect on the topic from the authors’ respective theoretical backgrounds.
Stephen Cornford is a media artist concerned with the toxicity of consumer technologies and the role of visual culture in climate change. Much of his recent work has been made in collaboration with scientific researchers, from commercial geophysicists prospecting for technology metals in Europe, to volcanologists studying magma crystallisation with X-rays. His practice often appropriates laboratory processes or imaging instruments. In 2018 he completed a PhD affiliated to the Archaeologies of Media & Technology research group at Winchester School of Art, where he is now Senior Lecturer and programme lead for MA Fine Art.