Project 02

Project 02 (work-in-progress)

Project 02 spirals outward from the security fence at Google’s data center in The Dalles, Oregon to expand our understanding of the cultural and ecological underpinnings of the internet. The photographic, video, audio, and archival media exhibition traces the entanglements of Google’s first hyperscale data center (completed in 2006) with the process of settler colonialism in the Northwest. By expanding scales of time and space to consider the last 100 years in a fifteen-mile stretch of the Columbia River, the infrastructure of the internet becomes entangled with the arrival of settlers on the river, the history of dam building, and indigenous peoples’ struggles for sovereignty.

Project 02 interweaves archival photographs and films from the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior, and the Bonneville Power Administration with contemporary images by the artist of the Google data center, active indigenous fishing sites, The Dalles Dam, and the Columbia River. The exhibition organizes this material spatially in the gallery. Audio recordings bleed into one another, archival photographs sit next to contemporary images, and the scale and duration of video challenges experiences of space and time. The overall effect is an immersion in a disparate body of media emerging from and around the Google data center.

Inherently speculative and associative, the exhibition reconsiders the boundaries of Google’s data center and expands our understanding of the decisions bound up with this massive infrastructure. More broadly, Project 02 leads us to consider long-term implications of the internet’s central role in our culture. What are ways to push beyond the self-representations of the tech industry to think more deeply about this massive change in our cultural and information infrastructure? Who determines the long-term goals of this infrastructure? To whose benefit? How are data centers’ needs for massive quantities of electricity and water negotiated with other uses of water and power? This project hopes to provoke questions such as these, through photographs, video, and audio related to Google’s data center in The Dalles, OR.