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Irish Pavilion explores impacts of data technologies at Venice Architecture Biennale
Italy Architecture News - May 21, 2021 - 13:21 4216 views
The Pavilion of Ireland has created a multisensory exhibition at the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale, the exhibition explores the impacts of data infrastructure and communications technologies that impact everyday of our life.
The exhibition, named Entanglement, is curated by ANNEX, whose members composed of Sven Anderson, Alan Butler, David Capener, Donal Lally, Clare Lyster, Fiona McDermott, a collective of architects, artists and urbanists.
The Pavilion's theme aims to reframe and understand the ways we understand data production while exploring its impact on everyday life.
Mainly focusing on the materiality of data and the interwoven human, environmental and cultural impacts of communication technologies are at the core of the exhibition.
The exhibition highlights how data production and consumption territorialise the physical landscape and examines Ireland’s place in the pan-national evolution of data infrastructure.
"The exhibition aims to raise awareness about the materiality of the global internet and the cloud, which have infiltrated the Irish landscape through a vast constellation of data centres, fibre optic cable networks and energy grids," said the curatorial team.
"Ireland has played a significant historical role in the evolution of global communications and data infrastructure. In 1866 the world’s first commercially successful transatlantic telegraph cable landed on Valentia Island on Ireland’s west coast."
"In 1901 the inventor of the radio, Guglielmo Marconi, transmitted some of the world’s first wireless radio messages from Ireland across the Atlantic to Newfoundland."
"Today Dublin has overtaken London as the data centre hub of Europe, hosting 25% of all available European server space. By the year 2027 Ireland’s data centres are forecast to consume a third of the country’s total electricity demand," stated the Ireland Pavilion.
The exhibition uses the prism of heat to explore the material relationship between data infrastructure and architecture. As the Pavilion asserts, "the production and distribution of information is intrinsically connected to the production and distribution of heat."
The exhibition design takes inspiration from contemporary and historical data storage artefacts to establish the building blocks of the Pavilion’s structure.
"These artefacts are assembled in a campfire formation, referencing the forum where early human civilisations formed alliances, built social networks and eventually developed complex societies," stated the team.
At the exhibition, the team used sixteen screens that display real-time thermographic imaging technologies and 24 fans generate cool air as a contrasting reminder of the heat produced by data centres – all fixed to a frame of charred materials.
In the background 30-minute soundscapes of Valentia Island, one of Ireland’s most westerly points, play in a loop through a series of speakers.
Visitors are invited to sit on one of 15 bespoke seats made from server frames and slate sourced from Valentia Island.
The Pavilion’s complex series of energy-intensive thermal transformations presents an immersive and performative visitor experience – from visualising how people are producing, consuming and disseminating data across the globe to bringing transparency to the local and planetary scale of data infrastructure networks, for example how a Facebook ‘like’ in Malaysia can trigger the emission of heat from a server on the outskirts of Dublin.
Ireland at Venice is supported with an initiative of Culture Ireland in partnership with the Arts Council of Ireland.
The 17th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice will open to the public on 22 May 2021. The exhibition will be on view till 21 November 2021.
This year’s architecture biennale is themed as "How will we live together?" by the curator Hashim Sarkis, the theme explores a widening context that helps architects to "imagine spaces in which we can generously live together".
All images © Alan Butler
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