Wednesday 4 October 2023


During the summer of 2023 the Frans Masereel Centrum, a centre for printmaking, hosted an exhibition by Simon Denny called Metaverse Landscapes, primarily to present some lithographs he made at the centre. Denny is an artist who according to his gallery Petzel 'makes exhibitions and projects that unpack the stories technologists tell us'.
The text for this exhibition was written by Adina Glickstein, who according to her website previously done 'editorial and research at studio simon denny' and is a 'writer and editor working between art, tech, and time-based media', with a 'particular interest' in 'critical approaches to emerging technology'. 

She starts her text stating that 'Lithography drives the metaverse. This is not merely a poetic thought: the microchips in GPU's [...] are made using lithographic printing procedures.'
Except they aren't.
Sure, the process of making microchip wafers is called photolithography, but the factual process has little in common with the kind of lithography used in printing. Lithography, the printing process with inks and paper, is most simply explained as creating a hydrophilic layer on an otherwise hydrophobic surface.
Photolithography, on the other hand, is more akin to a combination of stencilling and etching. There, a so-called wafer is first covered in a photosensitive material. This material is subsequently either hardened or removed by light that's passed through a mask. This exposes parts of the wafer, which is then etched before the photosenstive material is washed away and you're left with an etched surface, a semiconductor.

The only thing the two techniques have in common is the name, which is probably related to the fact that photolithography is ultimately done on wafers made of silicon, of 'stone'. That this misunderstanding is the basis for the rest of the text, as well as the exhibition, doesn't bode well for the self-proclaimed technological interests of Adina Glickstein nor Simon Denny.