The now demolished Birmingham Central Library served as a case study about how materiality is affected by the shift from the physical to the digital. The project outcomes include a moving image respone and concrete shapes that remind of mobile phone and tablet devices.
Apart from the Birmingham Central Library’s purpose as a library, it was seen as an impressive example of British Brutalism and served as a facilitator of social progressivism. Now, the materiality of the library has completely changed. In the digital realm, it has mutated into something else: Stock photo companies sell images of the library’s demolition for commercial purposes, similar photos are hashtagged on Instagram and can be found between photos of bunny-filter-selfies and Disney memes. University lecturers and PHD students 3D-scanned fragments of the library and encourage others to re-purpose these in other contexts; online communities argue over the aesthetic value of brutalism using the library as an example and brutalism lovers showcase photos of the library’s interior on their blogs.
All these mutations are results of new actions that the library’s digital materiality has allowed its users. Their significance to new digital users can sit alongside or in contrast to the old users of the “real” library. Even though the library doesn’t exist anymore in the form of physical matter, it still “MATTERS” digitally through its online visibility.