Sean Cubitt – Finite Media: Environmental Implications of Digital Technologies


Duke University Press, ISBN: 978-0822362920, English, 256 pages, 2016, USA

Digital apparatuses have induced, over time, a relationship which can be seen as very close to pure ‘devotion’. We care about the mesmerising rituals they fill our life with, but they have the property of making us completely insensitive to the extraordinary waste of social and natural resources they imply and induce, or as Cubitt says in the text, we imagine “consumer goods that have no history”. This book investigates the global digital infrastructure and its maintenance economy through its voracious need for energy and raw materials on one side, and the deprivation of the poorest workers on the other. Since his previous EcoMedia (2005) Cubitt has explored the theoretical dimensions in ecology, media and art with an interwoven approach. It’s easy to recognise the two main parts the book is divided into. In the first one the exposure of disturbing truths involves an ample connected spectrum of fields, enhancing, through case studies, how we can’t anymore restrict ecology to nature only, but we also need to include the ‘secondary environments’, or media and technology. The terrifying combination of facts and figures in this part is coupled with the consequent development of a stringent political and philosophical approach in the second part, leading to an advocacy for ‘an eco-political media aesthetics’. This book can be ascribed to these essential ideas: since the declined concept of finiteness in its own title, it calls for a wider effective environmentalism, finally including all the still missed crucial parts of its discourse.