There are many maps of England, Scotland and Wales. Two of these maps are 21st Century treasure maps. They both map a resource and are contained within said resource, and like all good treasure maps they offer the promise of unimaginable wealth. They are maps of the dreams of the human race and they are the maps of the submarine fibre optic cables which connect this island to both itself and the rest of the world.
These maps attest to the physicality of digital systems in the landscape and simultaneously abstract the physical landscape into a system of digital representation. The two become structures attempting to conflate and a complex relationship becomes apparent.
The maps describe 25 coastal points around the mainland UK where these cables make landfall – 25 potential beachheads for further understanding. Scribbling between Photons will take this map of flows of digitized information – coded pulses of light in glass and apply it’s structure to a physical journey through the landscape, spending time at each location recording with video, timelapse, audio and stills the passage of light from water to land and back again, the chance encounters with people who use these apparently disparate locations – the fishermen, the dog walkers, the horse riders, the beach combers and all those others that it is impossible to predict.
Sometimes working alone and sometimes with a team I will begin conversations with these people and attempt to ascertain what these locations mean to them, the personal history they have with the landscape, how they feel the landscape and the datascape co-exist and whether together we can locate the physical cables themselves – these are, after all, treasure maps and do not pin point the exact location of this valuable resource.
These recordings will become the basis for 25 video works, one made in response to each site. The overall structure for these works will become apparent during the process of creating them. One cannot define a journey one has not yet taken… My journey began in October 2012, when I first discovered the cable maps.
What we spiral in to is an attempt to create a psychogeographic portrait of the UK in 2013-14 structured through the physicality of the network. A portrait of collection of people suspended between landscape and datascape, casting indelible digital shadows as they move and as they sleep.
Each work will include micro narratives found at the site, the land and the sea in their endless dance, research on the corporate ownership of the cables, chance encounters with the public & the current developments in the NSA/GCHQ cable tapping/data mining Edward Snowden related revelations. As ever the politics of power are written in the landscape.
This piece by James Bridle has been of great interest to me, I saw a fascinating talk from him in Jan 2013 @ Spike Island.