I'm struck by two phenomena moving at rates of acceleration that defy comprehension. In a global dataverse now measured in zettabytes, I see us as ghosts adrift in unfathomable seas of information. In 2013 the amount of digital data created worldwide was 4.4 zettabytes. A zettabyte = one sextillion bytes, or one billion terabytes. To put this into perspective (as if), in 2009 the entire World Wide Web consisted of about 500 exabytes, or half a zettabyte ("Zettabyte"). As I write this, within three years it's estimated it'll reach 44 zettabytes ("Digital Universe"), & 180 zettabytes by 2025 (Kanellos). These might as well be imaginary numbers; the processing mechanisms of our brains fail to make sense of them. Likewise with other tallies, such as how in 2015 eight trillion text messages were sent worldwide ("How Many"). Or that Sverker Johannson, a Swedish inventor, has created a bot that can generate up to ten thousand Wikipedia articles a day (Eriksen 122). Or how 2.5 million new scientific (never mind the humanities) papers are published annually ("21st Century Science Overload"). Or that over 100 million photos and videos are now shared on Instagram daily (Parker). (These stats, compiled in spring 2017, are long outdated by now.)
Conversely, in the sixth extinction now well underway we find ourselves surrounded by the ghosts of unnumbered & unknowable species erased every hour. In 1993 E. O. Wilson estimated we were losing 27,000 species a year, or three per hour (Wilson). But now it's believed the extinction rate is far worse than previously thought--100 to 1,000 times greater than the background rate (Ceballos et al.; De Vos et al.). Some studies anticipate 3/4 of all animal species will disappear during this sixth mass extinction (Nehuahser). Elizabeth Kolbert:
Today, amphibians enjoy the dubious distinction of being the world's most endangered class of animals; it's been calculated that the group's extinction rate could be as much as forty-five thousand times higher than the background rate. But extinction rates among many other groups are approaching amphibian levels. It is estimated that one-third of all reef-building corals, a third of all freshwater mollusks, a third of sharks and rays, a quarter of all mammals, a fifth of all reptiles, and a sixth of all birds are headed toward oblivion. The losses are occurring all over.... If you know how to look, you can probably find signs of the current extinction event in your own backyard. (17-18)
Through a practice of recombinatory poetics (remixing, self-sampling, mashing in different media), I am excavating & documenting my own backyard, literally & figuratively, exploring what it might mean to be a haunt as well as the haunted. In this way recalling the past, while imagining the future, becomes a kind of cross-temporal feedback loop, to the point where such polarities can seem to switch places: one recalls a future, invents a past. Exercises in world-building & myth-making. Shaping other realms--whether ancient memory-histories or future fabulisms--out of the here-right-now of the immediately local. This fluid presentness as a realm for making bridges, conduits, portals; nets, sieves, & traps. Exiting, then returning, ever winding up in the same place, almost, but not exactly. Coping, via making, in spite of it all.
"21st Century Science Overload." Canadian Science Publishing, 7 January 2016, www.cdnsciencepub.com/blog/21st-century-science-overload.aspx. Accessed 27 March 2017.
Ceballos, Gerardo, Paul R. Ehrlich, Anthony D. Barnosky, Andrés Garcia, Robert M. Pringle, and Todd M. Palmer. "Accelerated Modern Human-Induced Species Losses: Entering the Sixth Mass Extinction." Science Advances, vol. 1, no. 5, 19 June 2015, advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/5/e1400253.full. Accessed 24 March 2017.
"The Digital Universe of Opportunities: Rich Data and the Increasing Value of the Internet of Things." IDC, April 2014, www.emc.com/leadership/digital-universe/2014iview/executive-summary.htm. Accessed 27 March 2017.
Eriksen, Thomas Hylland. Overheating: An Anthropology of Accelerated Change. Pluto Books, 2016.
"How Many Text Messages Are Sent Each Year?" Bloomberg, 3 Dec. 2016, www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/b/443bcbc2-2d56-4608-a2e8-732689593f17. Accessed 23 March 2017.
Kanellos, Michael. "152,000 Smart Devices Every Minute in 2025: IDC Outlines the Future of Smart Things." Forbes, 3 Mar. 2016, www.forbes.com/sites/michaelkanellos/2016/03/03/152000-smart-devices-every-minute-in-2025-idc-outlines-the-future-of-smart-things/#4271a28d4b63. Accessed 27 March, 2017.
Kolbert, Elizabeth. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. NY: Henry Holt, 2014.
Neuhauser, Alan. "75 Percent of Animal Species to be Wiped Out in 'Sixth Mass Extinction,'" US News and World Report, 19 June 2015, www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2015/06/19/75-percent-of-animal-species-to-be-wiped-out-in-sixth-mass-extinction. Accessed 24 March 2017.
Parker, Sydney. "A Long List of Instagram Statistics That Marketers Need to Know." Hootsuite, 3 Nov. 2016, blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-statistics/. Accessed 24 March 2017.
Wilson, E. O. The Diversity of Life. NY: Norton, 1992.
"Zettabyte." Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zettabyte. Accessed 27 March 2017.