These days, the average person has a computer in their pocket that’s more powerful than the ones NASA used to put a man into space, and that has immediate access to all recorded knowledge without needing to be plugged into anything. And yet, if you asked that person how it worked, they likely wouldn’t be able to tell you. The infrastructure of the internet, particularly in this increasingly cloud-based age, is wholly mysterious. Most people don’t know what the cloud is or, in fact, where it is. They just know that it works.
Three artists are attempting to change that by shedding some light on this vitally important yet seemingly intangible industry. Matthew Parker, an audiovisual and sound artist, is working in collaboration with cinematographers Michael James Lewis and Sebastian Dehesdin on a six-part documentary series called The People’s Cloud. Recently, Parker spoke with Motherboard about what got him interested in the project and how he’s going about finding the art in the tech.
“When I first went to a data center … I was totally blown away by the power of the sound, and the air moving around,” Parker said. “It was totally different to what the Google promo videos make it seem (all slick and silent).” Combining this oddly soothing audiovisual experience of blinking and whirring server banks with concrete information about the history of cloud computing makes for an interesting watch. New episodes of the series will be released every two weeks and will continue to dig into the physical reality of cloud computing.