Steve Rowell’s photographic project, Points of Presence, focuses on the history of 19th and 20th century transatlantic communication technologies. The title refers to the technical term for a physical access point to the Internet. At the heart of Rowell’s investigative project is the very materiality of something as ‘virtual’ as the World Wide Web. This photographic journey captures sites on either side of the North Atlantic where submarine telegraph and telephone cables emerge from the ocean floor.
The first telegraph 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. Terabits of data per second flow beneath the oceans of the world in millions of miles of cables: hidden by the waves, buried beneath beaches, and protected inside nondescript coastal station houses on every continent. Clues to these sites can be found by the curious.
Sparked by an invitation to conduct a tour at the Falmouth Convention in Cornwall in May 2010, Steve Rowell began researching and documenting sites in the UK, Canada, and USA that represent the history of telecommunications. He visited the Telegraph Museum in 2017 and this exhibition includes photographs recording his exploration of Porthcurno and the museum.
This exhibition has been organised in partnership with the Telegraph Museum.