Polymorphism (Data Centre Simulation)

Polymorphism (Data Centre Simulation)
projected computer-generated simulation, 2ch sound

Polymorphism is a simulation of a data centre that has been constructed using 3d-modelling software, informed by images of existing data centres of large organisations such as Google, Facebook and CERN, as well as co-location facilities–secure and tightly controlled spaces for companies and governments to place their computer infrastructure. These facilities utilise huge amounts of energy to power and cool hundreds of rack-mounted servers. They are engineered for redundancy, incorporating backups of power, cooling and data to ensure that the facility (and ‘the cloud’) stays online close to 100% of the time and that data is available at a click, perpetually.

Polymorphism explores the conflicting relationships that we have with data and algorithmic processes. There is a tendency to reduce computational activity to an abstract quantity without considering the multiple relations computation enters into, including physical and material spaces. This simulation attempts to highlight the material aspects of data through a virtual representation that taps into the physical rather than abstract quantities of data. Data centres operate in a strange space–they are responsible for the structure, organisation and efficacy of a huge proportion of digital activity, yet are largely unseen and unknown. They are highly restricted, massive buildings with no windows–a realisation of a “black box”– an opaque system that has inputs and outputs but no way of knowing the internal workings.

This work attempts to take something imperceptible and make it physical. In doing so it brings these complex relations to the fore. Data centres are ghostly entities that cannot be directly seen or felt, yet are constantly producing and reproducing the structures of society through algorithmic processes which in turn directly take effect on everyday life.


- Nov/Dec 2015 – Dead Ringer – Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, curated by Leigh Robb

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