Abstract as the Internet may seem, its physical infrastructure is actually all around us. Last year, Paris-based American artist Evan Roth set out to document the global submarine fiber optic cable network landings–the sites where large cables join local networks with the world wide web. Traveling to various landings in New Zealand, Sweden, and France, Roth shot video of each site with a modified infrared (IR) camera and recorded sound using an instrumental transcommunication device he built himself.
The videos are now being shown as part of Roth’s Kites & Websites exhibit at Belenius/Nordenhake gallery in Stockholm. Played on large rectangular screens, the videos are stored in a server in the countries where they were shot, so when viewed, they are traveling from the same fiber optic cables showed in the film (a few of the websites are here, here, and here, with a full list available on the gallery site). Hexagon-shaped kites that line the gallery walls serve as a canvas for infrared still photography.
The kites are a reference to the early 20th-century Italian engineer Guglielmo Marconi–widely credited as the inventor of radio–who used a kite to send the first transatlantic radio communication. Marconi’s 500-foot kite supported the antenna for reception.
“For me, visiting the Internet physically is an attempt to repair a relationship that has changed dramatically as the Internet becomes more centralized, monetized, and a mechanism for global government spying,” Roth writes in a press release. “Through understanding and experiencing the Internet’s physicality, one comes to understand the network not as a mythical cloud, but as a human made and controlled system of wires and computers.”
Kites & Websites is on view at Belenius/Nordenhake in Stockholm through April 24, 2016.