Ireland has long acted as a strategic node in the evolution of global communications and data infrastructures. In 1866, the world's first transatlantic telegraph cable landed on Valentia Island, Co. Kerry. In 1901, 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. The deployment of these technologies has consistently changed the way Ireland works at local and global scales.
The 2021 Irish pavilion, Entanglement, at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale will explore the materiality of data infrastructure and its impact on architectural space. The pavilion will highlight how data production and consumption territorialize the physical landscape, and examine Ireland’s place in the pan-national evolution of data infrastructure. The exhibition aims to raise awareness around the hardware of the global internet and Cloud services, which is interwoven with the Irish landscape - made manifest through the vast constellation of data centres, fibre optic cable networks, and energy grids that have come to populate its cities and suburbs over recent decades.
Entanglement draws from both contemporary and historical data storage artefacts as building blocks to form the structure of the pavilion. These artefacts are assembled in a campfire formation, referencing this primitive architectural space where early human civilisations formed alliances, built social networks and eventually developed complex societies. The pavilion asserts that from the burning of campfire logs to the management of waste heat generated by contemporary data infrastructure, the production and distribution of information is intrinsically connected to the production and distribution of heat.
By foregrounding these thermodynamic processes as a link between the architectures of the campfire and the data centre, the pavilion speculates on the relationship between these forms and how diverse communities converge around them in the past and into the future. Entanglement invites its audience to experience this thermal logic themselves through real-time thermographic imaging technologies that juxtapose key sites associated with data infrastructure in Ireland with traces of human activity in the Arsenale.
Entanglement is curated by Annex.
Ireland at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia 2021 is an initiative of Culture Ireland in partnership with the Arts Council of Ireland.
Culture Ireland Arts Council of Ireland Department of Heritage, Culture and the Gaeltacht Royal Institute of Architects Ireland TU Dublin School of Creative Arts TU Dublin Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media Trinity College Dublin CONNECT Research Centre for Future Networks and Communications University of Illinois at Chicago, Creative Activity Award Valentia Slate The Office of Public Works and Green on Red Gallery