Server Farm is a proposal to build a computer out of, and in collaboration with, plants and other critters.
All of the component parts of contemporary computation, from information storage, retrieval, and processing, to networking, power supply and management, input/output and display, can be enacted by biological systems. In doing so, we may find ways to ask questions, and answer them, which binary digital systems are incapable of even describing.
Emerging from cross-disciplinary work in biology, agronomy, and artistic practice, Server Farm seeks to establish the complete circuit of information technology in fields, orchards, and gardens: an actual agricultural establishment which acquires, stores, processes, and shares data, while at the same time repairing the biosphere and more-than-human relationships.
Information technology, as presently configured, is a huge contributor to CO2 emissions, as well as being complicit in a range of oppressive, extractive, and neo-colonial industrial processes which damage the planet, its ecosystems and denizens, and human society. Yet technology itself, in the forms of seeing, describing, and acting upon the world which it enables, remains an essential part of human thriving, and a necessary tool for addressing the damage we have already inflicted.
From encoding information in DNA to mapping algorithms with slime molds; from mycelial networks to carbon sequestration; and from heavy metal hyperaccumulators to permaculture processing; the tools and knowledges exist right now to wholly replace the toxic technological infrastructures of the present with decentralized, rooted and regenerative alternatives.
Server Farm is a vision for bringing together these diverse but cumulative realizations, and a robust proposal for grounding them in the earth. Moving from discussions and experiments with artists, scientists, and other researchers towards a fully established, working farm, it embodies and enacts the kinds of relationships with one another and the more-than-human world that are of such urgency in the present moment.
Server Farm has received previous support from the STRP Festival, Eindhoven, NL.
James Bridle (GB) is a writer, artist, and technologist. Their artworks have been commissioned by galleries and institutions and exhibited worldwide and on the internet. Their writing on literature, culture, and networks has appeared in magazines and newspapers including WIRED, the Atlantic, the New Statesman, the Guardian, and the Financial Times. They are the author of New Dark Age (2018) and Ways of Being (2022), and they wrote and presented New Ways of Seeing for BBC Radio 4 in 2019. Their work can be found at http://jamesbridle.com.
Server Farm represents a new paradigm for our Technosphere that marries technology and sustainability in an unprecedented and radical way. The project’s cross-disciplinary nature indicates a pioneering leap into a future where biology, agronomy, and artistic practice merge, crafting a world where nature’s intelligent design becomes a framework for sustainable and regenerative computational systems. The Server Farm project is a testament to the paradigm shift that is vital for our survival in this era of global warming, environmental devastation, and extractivist digital capitalism. By replacing contemporary computation components with biological systems, Server Farm provides a compelling model for the potential of decentralized, rooted, and regenerative technological infrastructures. This initiative utilizes the potential of DNA encoding, mycelial networks, carbon sequestration, and permaculture processing, to put forward a cutting-edge vision that can completely transform the current toxic technological infrastructures. It is a project of profound ecological consciousness, brilliantly illustrating that technological advancement need not be at the expense of the environment, by challenging conventional industrial processes, offering an environmentally conscious path forward in which technology plays a significant role in repairing the biosphere, and improving our relationships with the more-than-human world. Bridle’s Server Farm is more than a concept; it is a strong, applicable, and necessary utopia that signifies the importance of interplay between technological innovation and environmental sustainability. It is a call to action for us to start thinking and acting differently in our relationship with technology and the environment.