Tomorrow and friday, New York-based artist Tyler Coburn is reading from his latest novel I’m that angel at EvoSwitch AMS1.
Why did you chose EvoSwitch?
In a way, the real question is, “Why did EvoSwitch choose me?” I’m that angel is borne of an interest in facilitating access for guests to the material locations that store many parts of their online selves. Practically, this entails a relatively unusual collaboration with a colocation company, allowing for an on-site reading and facilities tour. Given the unusualness of the project, and the security considerations entailed in data storage, it has been difficult to solicit even a response from most companies. EvoSwitch, however, has proved incredibly receptive to my project, in seeming recognition of the value and timeliness of generating artistic responses to the growing number of data centres.
What is your point of view on the role data centres play in modern/21st century life?
I’m that angel comprises a book and a series of sited events. I began writing the text at a moment when “the cloud” was entering colloquial use in the United States. Friends and colleagues would bandy the term about in conversation, often later confessing that they did not, in fact, understand its significance. Was it the latest metaphor for communications media – the aether of our era? Or did it denote a new structure of distribution and storage for the data parcels we call our own? In researching this term and learning about data centres, I came to realize how greatly this symbol belied the concreteness of the Internet; rather than raining bits of information on the earth, our cloud is actually tethered to various sites throughout the world.
It seems to be the condition of many ages to both imagine fictional futures and be unable to see beyond the ubiquitous technologies of their own. I cannot imagine a world beyond data centres, but only the environmental, architectural and security issues that will inform their evolution. My project’s modest contribution, then, is to call a cultural public’s attention to these sites and these issues – to remind that that the virtual is not disconnected but rather materially enmeshed in our daily lives.