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Digital Gold

University of Zurich (UZH), Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) | Gabriel Kamundala, Florian Bruggisser, Michael Schaepman, Karin Mairitsch, Gayatri Parameswaran

Beneath the surface of the global tech industry

The digital transition to a greener economy and society demands the increased production of smartphones, tablets, and computers at unprecedented speed. These devices cannot function without the rare earths used in their components. Gold is one of these valuable minerals: about 7% of the world’s gold is used for technological purposes. Despite its important contribution to the digital economy, the gold business remains uneven and non-transparent. This is particularly problematic for global workers, about 80% of whom are involved in so-called artisanal and small-scale mining in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Accidents are common in the mines and the health conditions of the miners, of whom up to 50% are women and minors, are poor due to frequent exposure to mercury and dust.

Gabriel Kamundala, PhD student at the Department of Political Georgraphy at the University of Zurich (UZH), and Florian Bruggisser, engineer and interaction designer at the Immersive Arts Space at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), have collaborated on the exhibition Kamituga – Digital Gold (2022) to document and visualize the conditions of the miners and the workflow of the gold coming from Kamituga a region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The panel is moderated by Gayatri Parameswaran, a Berlin based director and producer of immersive works.

This panel is co-organized by the University of Zurich (UZH) and Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) in the framework of “Zürich Meets Berlin” and the “Berlin Science Week”.

It is followed by a flying networking dinner from 7:00–7:30pm.

PUBLIC DISCUSSION WITH NETWORKING DINNER AT THE CAMPUS. PLEASE REGISTER.

This event will take place as part of the Berlin Science Week CAMPUS‚. Admission is free. Please reserve your one or two-day ticket here.

Information about the physical accessibility of the Museum für Naturkunde can be found here (see ‚evolution in action‘ for exact location on the map).

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CAMPUS
Invalidenstraße 43
Berlin, Berlin 10115 Germany

Karin Mairitsch

Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK)

Karin Mairitsch studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. She completed her doctorate at the University of Arts Linz with a thesis on curriculum development and the key objectives of educational policy. From 2003 to 2018, she held various management positions at universities including the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. She also worked as a freelance artist, curator, lecturer and author and was head of “Kultur123”, the cultural centre of the city of Rüsselsheim that encompasses a Department of Culture & Theatre, an Adult Education College, a Music School and a Municipal Library. Since October 2022, she is President of Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK).

Florian Bruggisser

Zürcher Hochschule der Künste (ZHdK)

Florian Bruggisser was originally trained as computer scientist before studying Interaction Design at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). He is co-founder of “bildspur”, creating interactive performances and immersive experiences. At the Immersive Arts Space he currently works as research associate, focusing on spacial augmented reality and volumetric capturing.

Gabriel Kamundala

Universität Zürich (UZH)

Gabriel Kamundala was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He has worked as a researcher at the Expertise centre on mining governance at the Université Catholique de Bukavu (CEGEMI/UCB) in the DRC, for 10. He has conducted numerous studies on a variety of subjects, including the formalization of artisanal and small-scale mining in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the impact of gold exploitation on local communities, the role of women in mining, and the relationship between artisanal mining and poverty reduction. Currently, he is a PhD student at the University of Zurich at the Department of Geography, where he is working on Africa’s Extractive industries frontier, specifically on the political economy of artisanal and small-scale gold labour in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 

Michael Schaepman

Universität Zürich (UZH)

Prof. Dr. sc. nat. Michael Schaepman, geboren 1966, studierte an der Universität Zürich (UZH) Geographie, Experimentalphysik und Informatik und promovierte 1998 am Geographischen Institut der UZH. Nach einem Post-Doc-Aufenthalt an der University of Arizona in Tucson, USA, kehrte er im Jahr 2000 als Forschungsgruppenleiter ans Geographische Institut der UZH zurück. 2003 wurde Michael Schaepman zum Professor für Geographische Informationswissenschaft am Institut für Umweltwissenschaften der Universität Wageningen (NL) ernannt und wurde dort 2005 wissenschaftlicher Leiter des Center for Geoinformation. Seit 2009 ist Michael Schaepman Professor für Fernerkundung am Geographischen Institut (Remote Sensing Laboratories) an der Universität Zürich. Zu seinen Forschungsschwerpunkten gehören die Erdbeobachtung, Fernerkundung und Spektroskopie zum Messen von Biodiversität aus dem Weltraum. 2014 wurde er zum Prodekan und 2016 zum Dekan der Mathematisch-naturwissenschaftlichen Fakultät ernannt. 2017 bis 2020 war er als Mitglied der Universitätsleitung für die Bereiche Forschung, Innovation und Nachwuchsförderung zuständig. Seit dem 1. August 2020 ist er Rektor der Universität Zürich.

Gayatri Parameswaran is an award-winning immersive journalist and creator from India. Her work KUSUNDA: Speak to Awaken has been exhibited at the Venice International Film Festival, SXSW, United Nations, HotDocs, Zentrum für Kunst und Medien, and have won the ‘Best Use of Immersive Arts’ at SXSW 2019 among other accolades. She is currently based in Berlin, where she co-founded NowHere Media – a storytelling studio that views contemporary issues through a critical lens. Gayatri is most excited about using VR as a medium to create realities for a desirable future. She has researched and worked in over 30 countries, including Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Myanmar, India, Mexico, Nicaragua and the US.

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