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Unknown Flows: Mapping Submarine Cable Geographies [August 18- 24, 2019]

My artistic micro-residency @bioartsociety ”Unknown Flows” examined the undersea media infrastructure of the Baltic Sea on board the ocean-going catamaran Godzilla- a floating art research platform, operated by artist duo Andy Best and Merja Puustinen (andyandmerja.com).

The aim of this project was to experiment with Godzilla as an undersea infrastructure surveying platform for artistic production. The project used underwater mapping technologies (side-scan sonar) to map the Baltic seabed following the laying route of submarine cables. It also conducted photo documentation of cable landings. The nature of this survey was artistic infrastructural exploration, to perform hands-on of what is usually executed by large sophisticated network infrastructure providers and then to disseminate this data to the general audience through an art installation.

Under the Baltic Sea run a vast network of data, electricity cables and gas pipelines. These cables belong to EstLink (power) and Telia Carrier (data) among others that connect from Tallinn, Estonia to Helsinki, Finland. As well as, Nordstream 1 and Nordstream 2 (planned), carry gas from Russia to Germany that run under the Gulf of Finland. These infrastructures lie far under and beyond the public eye, and their flows remain unknown, although they cut through marine habitats, and might have environmental implications (see Nordstream).1 Although imagery might be available from the above corporate entities, access to these assets is usually impossible.

Keeping one’s data in the cloud entails an increasing reliance on undersea cables, and thus users are entangled in geographies that are invisible. Analyzing the undersea network as media infrastructures draws our attention to the ways that the seemingly immaterial digital flows are anchored in material coordinates and biological strata. The project is an exploration into these dilemmas.

Imagining Godzilla Logbook: https://bioartsociety.fi/posts/imagining-godzilla-logbook