# STUDENTS /// Data Fossils by Tobias Jewson

Data Fossils is the last project of the series about the RIBA President’s medals projects. It is a project designed by Tobias Jewson for Liam Young (from Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today) and Kate Davies‘ studio at the AA.
This very interesting project dramatizes a near future where digital data would be biocomputerly archived (fossilized) within organic tissues and mineral substance. In this latest case, Tobias introduces the geological constitution of monumental earth archives in Iceland, offered to far future archeologists.

Here is his text:
In the digital era our information no longer takes the form of the physical, but that of a electronic file stored in ‘the cloud’. Our collective history is quickly effaced from this fragile and ephemeral domain, a computer crashes, formats are quickly obsolete, a hard drive is lost and all is gone. With our attachment to physical objects and mementos becoming increasingly superseded by our relationship to information, what will we leave for future generations?
The project employs design speculation as a critical tool to explore the potential ways in which architecture and landscape may respond to our ever evolving digital fascination. ‘Data Fossils’ has evolved as a series of fictional scenarios grounded in technically rigorous physical and computational investigations. Real techniques have been developed for encoding digital information in the physical world at both individual and collective scales.
Advances in biocomputing are allowing the possibility of storing data in living, physical forms. As the division between our bodies and the digital becomes increasingly blurred, the bone’s ability to remodel itself, in response to stress, can be hacked to provide data storage. Polyps of calcified binary code become written onto our skeleton, recounting our digital identities- a poet’s finest sonnet is read like Braille through his skin; an Internet glutton’s hoarded browser bookmarks cripple his every movement, our remains become an archaeology of memories.
Our collective history can be deposited in columns and strata of earth – where once archivists trawled the library stacks, data geologists now roam the Icelandic landscape. Hoards of machines traverse the lava deserts, scraping loose sand from the surface, and under immense heat transforming it into elaborate glass like geometries, within which our recent internet activities are encased. Topsoil blown by the harsh arctic winds soon gathers in the lee side of these immense structures, the grounded geological layer sprouting grass and moss.
Over time, habitats will grow in the glimmering hollows as fields of data slowly reverse Icelandic soil erosion. Local Islanders read the growth of this landscape from afar, whilst archaeologists look close ,using advanced MRI scanners, searching for insights into our past. And while tourists might flock to see history in the making archaeologists will read the dull fragments of frozen silica as records of our digital pasts.

Software application developed to encode data inputs in physical artefacts.
Software application developed to encode data inputs into the calcifying strucutre of our bones.

Archaeologists decode skeletal remains to bring back a dead poets lost works.
The informational glutton is bogged down by spam and excessive downloads.

Illegal immigrants conceal their data, and copy and paste new identities.

Like climate records trapped in ice cores data archiving can also become a geological process.
Software developed for the realtime growth of data geology from live twitter streams.
Software application developed to encode data inputs into structural building elements.

 

The machines use the immense heat of burning thermite to fuse sand into intricate data forests of volcanic glass.

Schematics of data archiving machines and physical experiments with thermite glass making.
Experiencing the informational landscape.

Data archeologists deciphering one of the oldest areas of the informational landscape.

People pilgrimage to this area known to hold the last data relating to flurry of internet activity from the day Michael Jackson died.
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