Document Type

Thesis

Date of Degree

Spring 2017

Degree Name

MFA (Master of Fine Arts)

Degree In

Art

First Advisor

Bradley Dicharry

Abstract

On Friday October 21st, 2016, there was a large-scale hack of an Internet domain hosting provider that took several websites including Netflix, Amazon, Reddit, and Twitter offline. Dyn, a cloud-based Internet Performance Management company, announced at 9:20AM ET that it resolved an attack that began at 7AM ET that day. However, another attack happened at 11:52AM ET. The attacks raised concern among the public and directed our attention towards Internet security. This also revealed the precariousness of Internet infrastructure. The infrastructure being used today is opaque, unregulated, and incontestable. Municipally provided public utilities are built without any transparency; thus, we do not expect failure from those systems. For instance, the Flint, Michigan water crisis raised issues of water infrastructure. Not only did the crisis spark talks about the corrosion of pipes, but also larger societal issues. Flint, a poor, largely African American community, became a victim of environmental racism—a type of discrimination where communities of color or low-income residents are forced to live in environmental dangerous areas. In order for myself and the larger public to understand this opaque system, we need to understand the infrastructure and how it works.

With regards to Internet infrastructure, I focus on data centers, where there are backup servers, batteries and generators built into the architectural landscape in case of failure. There is a common held thought that overshadows the possibility of imminent technological failure—it cannot happen. This sort of thinking influences other modes of our daily lives: individuals building concrete bomb shelters underground for the apocalypse, stocking food, but not preparing for data breakdown. The consciousness of loss is further perpetuated by technology and its life expectancy.

Clouded Space: Internet Physicality attempts to explore the unexceptional infrastructure of the Internet and how it exists right beneath our feet. That in itself is not very cloud-like. The work questions integrity of our infrastructure as much as environmental issues, highlighting the questionable relationship we have with data and our inclination to backup data to protect ourselves from failure. This is a relatively new topic and the challenges are not well understood. There seem to be cracks in the foundation, and though they are not yet obvious, they appear to be widening.

Keywords

cloud, data center, infrastructure, Internet

Pages

viii, 14 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (page 14).

Comments

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Copyright

Copyright © 2017 Naoki Izumo

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Art Practice Commons

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