Of Life in the Cloud. Tracing the Internet as »Embodied Media« in the Swiss and Austrian Alps
This project addresses the materiality of the Internet, hidden behind the metaphor of the Cloud. Arguing that the metaphor obscures industrial-age, extractive processes, it focuses on documenting the realities of human and non-human interaction with physical Internet infrastructure in the Alps, at once a fragile ecosystem affected by climate change, site of energy production, and place of consumption and pollution. The project argues that it is in places as this, far away from most extraction and resource processing, where the narrative of the Cloud can be at its most pervasive. By engaging in poetic anthropology, the research endeavor primarily aims for a better understanding of the socio-ecological effects of the Internet in the Alps. The secondary aim of the research project is to explore the role of artistic practices as methods of knowledge acquisition and communication in the midst of a climate crisis.
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 starting to work as an editor, photographer and filmmaker for Ars Electronica. At the same time, she completed a master’s degree in media culture and art theories at the Linz University of the Arts. As an artistic-scientific doctoral student at the ECAM Graduate School in Basel and Linz, she researches the interactions between (digital) technologies, culture and ecology; in between, she writes, draws, films or works in photography. Additionally, she currently studies biology at the University of Salzburg. She has received several prizes and awards for her work, most recently the advancement award of the 2020 Rauris Days of Literature, the advancement award of the literature biennial FLORIANA 2020, the media scholarship of the Nationalparks Austria 2020 and the Fohn scholarship 2020.
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.