Please join us for the launch of Tung-Hui Hu’s new book Digital Lethargy: Dispatches from an Age of Disconnection (MIT Press 2022) at 18.00, on 19th January 2023, at The Photographers’ Gallery. Book at https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/whats-on/talk-digital-lethargy.
Sometimes, interacting with digital platforms, we want to be passive—in those moments of dissociation when we scroll mindlessly rather than connecting with anyone, for example, or when our only response is a shrugging “lol.” Despite encouragement by these platforms to “be yourself,” we want to be anyone but ourselves. Tung-Hui Hu calls this state of exhaustion, disappointment, and listlessness digital lethargy.
Examining a series of artworks that dwell within the ordinariness and banality of digital life, including a group that invites lazy viewers to strap their Fitbits to a swinging metronome, faking fitness for their health insurance companies, Hu argues that lethargy may paradoxically hold the potential for social change. Lethargy, he writes, is a drag: it weighs down our ability to rush to solutions and forces us to talk about the unresolved present.
Tung-Hui Hu is a poet and a scholar of digital media. He is the author of A Prehistory of the Cloud (MIT Press, 2015), on how the digital cloud grew out of older networks, such as railroad tracks, sewer lines, and television circuits. Currently an associate professor of English at the University of Michigan, and a 2022-23 Rome Prize Fellow in Literature at the American Academy in Rome, his new book is Digital Lethargy: Dispatches from an Age of Disconnection, from MIT Press (October 4, 2022). web: tunghui.hu
image credit: Natacha Nikouline