Center of Doubt
Artistic Research Project / Installation
2013 - 2018
Center of Doubt is a long-term artistic research project. The aim of the project is to explore and visualize the disappearance and reappearance of network technology, its infrastructure and representation. Center of Doubt is a collection of visual traces depicting the data industry of our times.
Two different approaches provide insight into the complicated and somehow opaque nature of the topic of data centres and (tele)communication technologies: on the one hand, it is an investigation about the materiality and the local circumstances of the infrastructure; while, on the other hand an attempt to offer an alternative visual representation on the issues connected to information technology, which are mainly presented as "cloudy" rhetoric and visuals in advertisement; science-fiction images; or overdriven military language.
The appearance of the commercial 'cloud computing', or more precisely the data centres and their supporting infrastructure, is depicted as a turning point of a new era of centralized internet: big corporations are in a competition to gain a fundamental status for their software and hardware, acting as a basic informational layer.
Center of Doubt contains following works:
The Formation of Clouds
The Formation of Clouds depicts the formation of data centers through satellite images, data centers that are owned by the world's leading digital companies like Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon. The activities of these global network companies lead to highly centralized Internet access. The acknowledgement of the development of centralization on the infrastructural level is even more important, as user generated data is being stored and processed in data centers that are owned by private corporations.
The Formation of Clouds is that it reveals the competition between companies to gain the best possible position in running the basic underlying informational infrastructure of everyday life.
Echelon is based on satellite images captured roughly from 2000 to the present. It depicts various so-called SIGINT (signals intelligence) stations that serve the interception and the collection and analysis of electronic signals, as for exaple commercial and other sattelite communication. The majority of these facilities are part of the ECHELON network, others belong to competing powers like China or Russia. Most of its technology allows commercial and other satellite communications to be intercepted. These stations are operated by five nations: the U.K., U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand - and their allies, which have signed the UKUSA Agreement. The network was created in the early 1960s to monitor the military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies during the Cold War. Nowadays, the stations have different intelligence targets.
High-Tech Fort Knox
Our customers now have a 'High-Tech Fort Knox' from a cloud provider they trust fully.
Tim Höttges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom at the opening ceremony of the data center
A video work based on research about building processes of T-Systems (a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom) data center located in the small city Biere in Saxony-Anhalt. Four videos, depicting various stages of the building were being shot over the course of a year and a half. The 'High-Tech Fort Knox' will be the largest data center in Germany and one of the largest in Europe. The complex is located nearby former farmlands, which refers to changes in industry - advertised as industry 4.0. - where everything is centred on data.
The work culminates with the opening ceremony of the complex - a typical business event - in the presence of Telekom's CEO and the Vice-Chancellor and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel, among others. As the quote from the ceremony clearly states: data is the center of the new economy, which needs to be secured.
Patent Application Data
The work is an attempt to go beyond the typical visual representation of data centres - blinking lights, cables, large sterile halls full of server racks. The patent drawings of data centres and its various processes provide a purified image that refers to the most important operations. Flowcharts, electrical schemes and machine drawings draw attention to primary goals of data processing - to order and optimize the messy physical world.
Move away from the age-old search for causality ... instead we can discover patterns and correlations ... The correlations may not tell us precisely why something is happening, but they alert us that it is happening. Big data is about what, not why. Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier, Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think(London: John Murray Publishers, 2013), 14
In some installations Center of Doubt is combined with:
Crystal Computing (Google Inc., St. Ghislain)
Die Grenze zwischen Morgen und Gestern