Though often shrouded in myths of immateriality and cloudy rhetoric, the Internet is nevertheless reliant on vast infrastructure networks. By identifying and documenting the realities of human and nonhuman interaction with this physical infrastructure, the cultural narratives of immateriality are enriched, countered, subverted, and complemented.
Head in the Cloud addresses cultural narratives of immateriality used to discuss the Internet and the material realities hidden beneath them. Arguing that metaphors such as the »Cloud« obscure not only infrastructure, but also related extractive processes, labor, (military and imperial) histories, and socio-ecological impacts, this talk looks behind narratives of immateriality and traces the physical Internet infrastructure in the Alps—at once a fragile ecosystem, major site of energy production, geological barrier, and challenge to infrastructure development. This research engages in »poetic anthropology«, combining a series of semi- structured interviews and the artistic representation of the obtained data in a film project of speculative fabulation. It aims primarily to contribute to the fields of cultural studies and media ecology with a site-specific case study of the Internet’s material presence and related histories, narratives, and lore.
Vanessa Graf is a writer and doctoral candidate in media studies. She studied political science at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris before moving to Linz in 2016 and beginning work as an editor, photographer, and filmmaker for Ars Electronica. She completed a master’s degree in media culture and art theories at the University of Art and Design Linz. As an artistic-scientific doctoral student at the MAKE/ SENSE Graduate School in Basel and Linz, she researches the interactions between (digital) technologies, culture, and ecology. She was an IFK_Junior Fellow in winter term 2021/22.
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Location: IFK; IFK@Zoom