Evan Roth – Kites & Websites

Kites and Websites collects a selection of works developed along the last year in the framework of the Internet Landscapes project, Evan Roth’s ongoing investigation into the physical infrastructure of the internet: a research that brought him to study the global submarine fiber optic cable network, and to do pilgrimages to various submarine fiber optic cable landing locations all around the world: from the UK to Sweden and New Zealand.These locations, where the national or local network infrastructure actually joins the global internet, allowing people to instantly communicate with the rest of the world, are often remote locations, not easy to reach and not meant to be visited. The nature is wild, and signs announcing the presence of the cable are placed to be seen from the sea, not by anybody walking on the beach, or the cliffs. In other words, they provide a beautiful opportunity for landscape painting. And it is as a Romantic painter that Evan Roth approaches these places, even if his tools are a little bit different from those of Turner and alikes. He uses an infrared camera to shoot pictures and videos, and he records audio using an instrumental transcommunication device that he has custom built, that captures ambient sounds and scans radio frequencies at intervals regulated by the artist’s heart rate. This recording, though, is not made for documentary purposes. As a romantic “wanderer”, Roth travels to these Internet Landscapes to experience them, and portrays them to capture their essence: “For me, visiting the Internet physically is an attempt to repair a relationship that has changed dramatically as the Internet becomes more centralized, monetized and a mechanism for global government spying. Through understanding and experiencing the Internet’s physicality, one comes to understand the network not as a mythical cloud, but as a human made and controlled system of wires and computers.”

Kites and Websites are the forms that this landscape painting takes in the exhibition. Kites are a reference to childhood innocence, but also to the history of communications: their hexagonal shape reminds the first patent drawing of the internet, and the hexagonal kites used by Guglielmo Marconi to send radio waves. Websites are actually “web sites”, places on the network that mirror both visually and conceptually the physical places they portray, in a complexity of layers and references that makes the experience of the project richer as long as we dig deep, but that doesn’t prevent us to enjoy it as a simple aesthetic experience: as a exercise in immersion, contemplation and slowness.

The Internet Landscapes project is currently part of the Black Chamber exhibition (Skuc Gallery, Ljubljana) and of the Sydney Biennale, and has been awarded a production grant as part of the Masters & Servers European co-operation project. More info: http://www.mastersandservers.org //Domenico Quaranta