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[2021] Book | States of Entanglement: Data in the Irish landscape

States of Entanglement: Data In The Irish Landscape
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States of Entanglement: Data In The Irish Landscape (ACTAR, 2021) draws attention to some of the extraordinary transformations and profound contradictions being brought about by information technologies. As our everyday lives become increasingly entangled with data technologies and their assemblages, our routines are shifting to ever more virtual forms of exchange. Moving from traditional physical modes of interaction to a more cloud-based lifestyle has enormous implications for not only how we live in the world, but also for how designers conceive, order, and produce space. We are increasingly constructing and experiencing the world via data networks as apps, algorithms, sensors, data sets, digital devices, and e-platforms that provide new forms of exchange between us and the spaces around us. As a result, ours is an age where networked information-gathering devices and data infrastructures are pervasively deployed across the built and natural environments. From the entertainment devices that we carry in our pockets, to the proliferation of cameras, sensors, actuators and other embedded computational and machine-learning systems. From emerging automated landscapes such as data centres and fibre optic cable networks, to resource territories in the form of extraction sites and energy grids that support the cloud, radical changes are occurring to space from the home to the cosmos, via the deployment and integration of digital technologies.

Yet, these spatial transformations, what the publication refers to as Entangled States and the implications of our reliance on data more broadly, cannot be isolated but must be interrogated within the larger cultural, political, and environmental situation around us. In particular, by bringing the physical infrastructure around data, and its impact on the environment under the spotlight, the publication reframes how we understand data production and highlights the myth that information technologies are hidden and without major material manifestations on the landscape.

The context for the book is Ireland which has a significant historical role in the evolution of global communications and data infrastructure. In 1858, the world’s first transatlantic telegraph cable landed on the west coast of Ireland. In 1907, the inventor of the radio Guglielmo Marconi transmitted some of the world’s first wireless radio messages from Ireland across the Atlantic Ocean to Newfoundland. Today, Dublin has overtaken London as the data centre hub of Europe, hosting 25% of all available European server space with over 60 facilities in operation. And by the year 2027, data centres are forecast to consume a third of Ireland’s total electricity demand.

The publication features textual and design essays, cartographic images and photography by ANNEX, a multidisciplinary research and design collective, as well as contributions by experts in the fields of media theory, art, literature, geography and architecture. It also chronicles the ideation, production and agency of Entanglement, the Irish Pavilion at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale 2021, curated by ANNEX, which is a companion to, and stimulus for the book. Part catalogue, part atlas, and part design manifesto, this publication, (like the pavilion) argues that the cloud is not an ethereal and abstract space but has distinct material and environmental footprints that compel us to re-evaluate the utopian fantasy of digital communication and to reflect on how we live together through data infrastructure, today and into the future.

16.5 x 23.5 cm, 324 pages, 163 images, softcover
ISBN: English 9781948765596
Price: 35 EUR / 35 GBP / 42 USD
Published by Actar Publishers, June 2021

Available now at Actar and via Amazon and select bookstores from July 15 2021