Automated Landscapes
Research Department, Het Nieuwe Instituut

Machines mirror human dreams of relentlessness. Servers in data centres, milking robots in dairy farms, and conveyor belts in greenhouses — their uptime period is guaranteed and maximised day and night. Yet, without the contingent interference of humans and other species, none of these processes are exclusively automatic. As manure drops on a sensor, a notification urges the farmer to take immediate action. If a monitoring system indicates a failure in the server’s data supply, an engineer travels to check-in on the status of the hardware. Infrared cameras track and analyse the temperature and transpiration of individual crops, instructing horticulturists on the right moment to carry out pollination and harvest. These automated landscapes reveal that human labour is no longer at the centre of operations, but stands aside, redistributed and displaced, its rhythms and actions dictated by automated systems.