Artists Steve Rowell and Evan Roth make work that investigates sites around the world where internet and telephone cables emerge from the ocean floor to meet the coast line.
The first submarine cables installed in the mid-19th century physically connected Land’s End and Newfoundland – literally plugging the old world into the new. Lying alongside this web of dark (dead) cables is today’s fibre-optic network comprising the vital arteries of the digital world. Terabits of data per second flow beneath the sea in millions of miles of cables: hidden by the waves, buried beneath beaches, and protected inside nondescript coastal station houses on every continent.
Evan Roth has travelled widely to record the sites where these vast fibre-optic cables land on a camera adapted to film in the infra-red spectrum – the same spectrum in which data is transmitted. Roth’s network-located works reveal hidden sources of power in barely-moving videos, almost akin to paintings.
Sparked by an invitation to conduct a tour in West Cornwall for the Falmouth Convention in May 2010, Steve Rowell began researching and documenting the history of telecommunications in the UK, Canada, and USA. His photographic exhibition Points of Presence, now open daily at the Telegraph Museum Porthcurno, is presented for Groundwork and opened in May.
The two artists will present their projects and research together in CAST’s special projection space – Steve Rowell will speak via Skype from his studio in Los Angeles. This conversation has come about as Roth launches Red Lines, a new artwork commissioned by Artangel that can be experienced for free anywhere by anyone with an internet connection and a spare screen-based device. It uses the data cables and locations filmed by Roth to transmit his videos to people all over the world from servers located in the those same landscapes.
Red Lines makes reference to the term used by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall in the early 20th century to describe the submarine telegraph cable system that linked the colonies of the British Empire around the world: The All Red Line. Many of today’s internet cables emerge from the sea at the same sites, mapping a new form of global power.
CAST Café bar will be open for drinks before the event from 6pm. Evan Roth will be available to support people to set-up Red Lines on their devices after the event – if you would like to install the artwork on a spare phone or ipad, please bring your device along with you.