Today, while pondering the photo of the cell tower in Puerto Rico, I got a bit obsessed with the structure of the thing. One of the books I’ve had on hand is Ingrid Burrington’s Networks of New York, a guidebook to the visible, physical manifestations of the Internet within her city. She talks about markings on the road, mysterious boxes on walls and anonymous buildings housing data centres and cable junctions. And, of course, radio towers for cell phones, which once you spot on one a roof you start seeing everywhere in the city.
I’ve been semi-consciously looking for a symbol for this project. Working with and about data is strangely non-symbolic. There’s the Matrix cliche and that’s about it. There’s a recent tradition of artists dealing with the immateriality of the internet and the information that flows through it by focusing on where it manifests as a physical entity, such as massive data centres in the desert, and Ingrid’s work is part of that. It gives us many things to hold on to, including symbols.
I found myself examining the top of the cell mast in the photo, the way the panels were fixed to the pole in a triangle, reinforced with smaller triangles. I wondered what it looked like from above and made a sketch.
Yup, that’ll do.