Emilija Škarnulytė
Sep 15 – Oct 21, 2023
Opening: Sep 15, 6-9pm

Data is not an abstract concept. It is an object on Earth. As the limitations of data retention in normal environments become more apparent, given the exponential growth of data created, entities that control cloud servers seek more and more novel means of storage. The deep oceanic environment is paradoxical. It offers temperature control, predictable patterns, and insulation from human error and the seasonal vicissitudes of climate above mean sea level. It is also a black box. Without close human contact, subject to unknown risks, ranging from marine fouling by invertebrate lifeforms and chemical reactions to unpredictable seismic events, new vulnerabilities emerge.

As we generate more and more data, those that control our data place it in increasingly remote environments, further and further from the physical access of those who actually author or are represented by that data. Indeed, the very materiality of that data – in the form of large-scale servers and the electrical and cable networks that connect those databases to the power grid – is kept hidden from the general public.

In the same way that the Eleusinian mysteries of ancient Greece took place in hidden and enclosed chambers, the underwater data center is a site at which the occluded processes that undergird daily life are enacted. And like the sites of the Eleusinian mysteries, it may, in decrepit form, one day be subject to archaeological research as to the myths and codices of a forgotten era.

Rakhne is an exploration of the meeting point of the hidden and the revealed, the artificial and the natural, constructed with computer imagery and AI-generated polyvocal music to investigate the ways in which data is constructed and mythologized in the present moment.