Internet machine

Posted on 13 May 2014 in Exhibition, Film, Photography, Project, Research, Technology

InternetMachine01-web

Internet machine is a multi-screen film about the invisible infrastructures of the internet. The film reveals the hidden materiality of our data by exploring some of the machines through which ‘the cloud’ is transmitted and transformed.

Film: 6 min 40 sec, digital 4K, 25fps, stereo.
Installation: Digital projection, 3 x 16:10 screens, each 4.85m x 2.8m.
Medium: Digital photography, photogrammetry and 3D animation.

Internet machine (showing now at Big Bang Data or watch the trailer) documents one of the largest, most secure and ‘fault-tolerant’ data-centres in the world, run by Telefonica in Alcalá, Spain. The film explores these hidden architectures with a wide, slowly moving camera. The subtle changes in perspective encourage contemplative reflection on the spaces where internet data and connectivity are being managed.

In this film I wanted to look beyond the childish myth of ‘the cloud’, to investigate what the infrastructures of the internet actually look like. It felt important to be able to see and hear the energy that goes into powering these machines, and the associated systems for securing, cooling and maintaining them.

InternetMachine14-web

What we find, after being led through layers of identification and security far higher than any airport, are deafeningly noisy rooms cocooning racks of servers and routers. In these spaces you are buffeted by hot and cold air that blusters through everything.

InternetMachine09-web

Server rooms are kept cool through quiet, airy ‘plenary’ corridors that divide the overall space. There are fibre optic connections routed through multiple, redundant, paths across the building. In the labyrinthine corridors of the basement, these cables connect to the wider internet through holes in rough concrete walls.

InternetMachine16-web

Power is supplied not only through the mains, but backed up with warm caverns of lead batteries, managed by gently buzzing cabinets of relays and switches.

InternetMachine10-web

These are backed up in turn by rows of yellow generators, supplied by diesel storage tanks and contracts with fuel supply companies so that the data centre can run indefinitely until power returns.

InternetMachine03-web

The outside of the building is a facade of enormous stainless steel water tanks, containing tens of thousands of litres of cool water, sitting there in case of fire.

InternetMachine11-web

And up on the roof, to the sound of birdsong, is a football-pitch sized array of shiny aluminium ‘chillers’ that filter and cool the air going into the building.

InternetMachine15-web

In experiencing these machines at work, we start to understand that the internet is not a weightless, immaterial, invisible cloud, and instead to appreciate it as a very distinct physical, architectural and material system.

Production

Internet machine shoot

This was a particularly exciting project, a chance for an ambitious and experimental location shoot in a complex environment. Telefónica were particularly accommodating and allowed unprecedented access to shoot across the entire building, not just in the ‘spectacular’ server rooms. Thirty two locations were shot inside the data centre over the course of two days, followed by five weeks of post-production.

Internet-Machine-production-04

I had to invent some new production methods to create a three-screen installation, based on some techniques I developed over ten years ago. The film was shot using both video and stills, using a panoramic head and a Canon 5D mkIII. The video was shot using the Magic Lantern RAW module on the 5D, while the RAW stills were processed in Lightroom and stitched together using Photoshop and Hugin.

Internet-Machine-production-02

The footage was then converted into 3D scenes using camera calibration techniques, so that entirely new camera movements could be created with a virtual three-camera rig. The final multi-screen installation is played out in 4K projected across three screens.

There are more photos available at Flickr.

Internet machine is part of BIG BANG DATA, open from 9 May 2014 until 26 October 2014 at CCCB (Barcelona) and from February-May 2015 at Fundación Telefónica (Madrid).

Internet Machine is produced by Timo Arnall, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona – CCCB, and Fundación Telefónica. Thanks to José Luis de Vicente, Olga Subiros, Cira Pérez and María Paula Baylac.

55 Comments

  1. Anuradha Reddy
    13 May 2014

    Hello,

    Thanks for blogging about this project. I am Anuradha, a masters’ student of Interaction Research at Goldsmiths, University of London. I have been after a very similar brief, in physicalising the ‘cloud’ and removing the myth of where our data exists. We tackled it a little differently, by pulling aerial images of data centers through ip address location tracing. It’s fictional, of course, but it attempts at inviting people to explore the whereabouts of their data through a ludic kaleidoscopic lens. The project is explained here.. http://wiredeyeproject.com/ . I’d definitely love to hear your thoughts about it.

    Many thanks.

    Regards,
    Anuradha

  2. Matt Parker
    13 May 2014

    Hi,

    This is an amazing project and is precisely the kind of thing I am keen to work on myself. Guess you got there first! It is beautiful and so well put, to make the invisible visible, bringing the cloud into perspective with all of it’s noise and aggression.

    Fantastic.

  3. Maggie Leber
    14 May 2014

    It’s too bad that a film intending to deliver the experience of places we don’t ordinarily go is available only in places we don’t ordinarily go.

  4. Suzanna Stinnett
    14 May 2014

    Both these projects are spectacular. I run a user group in the San Francisco area for less-techie people. I try to give them an idea of the physical realities of “the web.” I’ll use these later in 2014 at a meeting on security. Fantastic work! How can the film be shown in an auditorium?

  5. The Internet Makes A Sound -- And It Will Drive You Nuts | Omaha Sun Times
    15 May 2014

    […] of ‘the cloud’, to investigate what the infrastructures of the internet actually look like,” Arnall writes in a blog post. “It felt important to be able to see and hear the energy that goes into powering these machines, […]

  6. Internet Machine - Invisible infrastructures of the internet / by @timoarnall
    15 May 2014

    […] Project Page | Timo Arnall […]

  7. Recorte de 15/05/2014
    15 May 2014

    […] seu blog, Arnall escreveu um pequeno making of cheio de detalhes e fotos lindíssimas, e liberou um belo trailer (abaixo) com toda a calmaria e poderio […]

  8. Mark
    15 May 2014

    Great film! Having worked in the construction sector for twenty years, I too have had the direct and unlimited access you talk about. Seeing these places being constructed is so far removed from the mainstream side of the industry with all of its chaos and mess. Data centers are more like operating theatres in that capacity, so clean and neat. There is a somewhat eerie feeling after the trades go home and one walks the site after hours, all that space, all that technology, all those 1′s & 0′s but not a sole in sight…

  9. La macchina di Internet | Bicycle Mind
    15 May 2014

    […] dei datacenter più grandi e sicuri del mondo, quello di Telefonica in Alcalá, Spagna. È stato girato da Timo Arnall, con l’intento di riuscire a spiegare e visualizzare Internet in una maniera più chiara, e […]

  10. John Gohde
    15 May 2014

    Be that as it may, I do believe that my PC has a lot to do with it. While servers for Internet Search Engines take up a lot of space there is no physical Tron Internet world out there.

  11. Internet Machine (trailer) - Doobybrain.com
    15 May 2014

    […] Internet Machine is a multi-screen film about the machines that power the internet. This project reminds me of the time I photographed the Google Servers in Oklahoma. […]

  12. Marius
    15 May 2014

    Hello,
    I want to buy the hole movie, Internet machine, for using it, or parts of it, on my web site .

    Love your work !!!

    Please provide necesarry details for such a legal transaction .

    Thank you !

  13. Localized
    15 May 2014

    I have to agree with the comment saying that the three screen display seems unnecessary. Otherwise this looks fantastic! Will the full film be available online at some point?

  14. Maggie Leber
    15 May 2014

    The energy spent on the internet certainly is “wasted” if you don’t read what you’re looking at…but that’s not the internet’s fault. :-)

  15. Detritus 301 | Music of Sound
    16 May 2014

    […] info on the project here – Internet machine is a multi-screen film about the invisible infrastructures of the […]

  16. Weblinks Nr. 51 | Herbstrevolver
    17 May 2014

    […] Internet machine Auch wenn man es gerne mal vergessen mag, das Internet besteht aus anfassbaren Dingen – ein für die menschliche Erfahrungswelt eigentlich nicht unerhebliches Kriterium. Hier werden diese Orte wenigstens einmal visuell erfahrbar gemacht und damit schon mal etwas aus ihrer bloßen abstrakten Existenz herausgelöst. […]

  17. Internet Machine: Un inmenso centro de datos de Teléfonica visto desde dentro - TechNoticias
    18 May 2014

    […] Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments Ir a la fuente original […]

  18. Internet Machine: Un inmenso centro de datos de Teléfonica visto desde dentro | Alojamiento Web
    18 May 2014

    […] Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments alcala, CentroDeDatos, General, internetmachine, Telefónica, timoarnallOriginal, Redes […]

  19. Internet Machine: Un inmenso centro de datos de Teléfonica visto desde dentro | Misiongeek
    18 May 2014

    […] Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments Engadget en español […]

  20. “The Internet machine” reminds us that the Cloud is made of metal — Do You Know Jack – Jack Ratcliffe's Online Writing Portfolio
    19 May 2014

    […] Arnall has created Internet machine in part to foreground the realities of digital, and also to highlight the beautiful engineering […]

  21. Internet Machine | A New Hype
    19 May 2014

    […] SEE THE TRAILER HERE! LINK! […]

  22. Internet Machine: Un inmenso centro de datos de Teléfonica visto desde dentro - V 1J
    19 May 2014

    […] Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments […]

  23. Un documentaire sur les infrastructures invisibles de l’internet | Patrick Bouillaud Blog
    20 May 2014

    […] e designer Timo Arnall signe Internet machine, un documentaire sur les infrastructures invisibles de l’internet, pour révéler la matérialité des serveurs, des câbles et des nuages où notre connectivé est gérée.  […]

  24. Revue de presse 20140525 photo-journalisme, Europe, pub, Glasgow, Déchets électroniques, Détroit, @Manhack, rue89 | GYOMSON
    25 May 2014

    […] Internet machine is a multi-screen film about the invisible infrastructures of the internet. The film reveals the hidden materiality of our data by exploring some of the machines through which ‘the cloud’ is transmitted and transformed http://www.elasticspace.com/2014/05/internet-machine […]

  25. 6 Stunning Photos of the Internet’s Hidden Infrastructure - News Press
    29 May 2014

    […] Arnall, a designer and artist from London, has documented these hidden spaces his new project Internet Machine for Big Bang […]

  26. 6 Stunning Photos of the Internet’s Hidden Infrastructure | Linux
    29 May 2014

    […] Arnall, a designer and artist from London, has documented these hidden spaces his new project Internet Machine for Big Bang […]

  27. 6 Stunning Photos of the Internet’s Hidden Infrastructure | Linux Admins
    29 May 2014

    […] Timo Arnall, a designer and artist from London, has documented these hidden spaces his new project Internet Machine for Big Bang […]

  28. 6 Stunning Photos of the Internet’s Hidden Infrastructure | itux.info
    29 May 2014

    […] Arnall, a designer and artist from London, has documented these hidden spaces his new project Internet Machine for Big Bang […]

  29. Internet Machine | Irregular Around The Margins
    30 May 2014

    […] very interesting film by Timo Arnall. Now showing at Big Bang […]

  30. Jaeyoung Lim
    30 May 2014

    I am a student in Seoul Natinal Univesity, Seoul, Korea, I would like to know if it is possible to get the film or at least watch it. It would be great if I could share it within the school too. I will wait for any answers, Thank you

  31. Stunning Project by Timo Arnall on The Internet’s Hidden Infrastructure | Andrea Bauer |
    30 May 2014

    […] Timo Arnall, a designer and artist from London, has documented these hidden spaces his new project Internet Machine for Big Bang Data. And it turns out that these spaces are actually quite […]

  32. 6 Stunning Photos of the Internet’s Hidden Infrastructure | Walker Communications Digital Blog
    30 May 2014

    […] Timo Arnall, a designer and artist from London, has documented these hidden spaces his new project Internet Machine for Big Bang Data. And it turns out that these spaces are actually quite […]

  33. Internet Machine: una película sobre las infraestructuras invisibles de la Internet | Enfoque IT
    30 May 2014

    […] Internet Machine es una mini película multi-screen, producida por Timo Arnall, el Centro de Cultura Contemporánea de Barcelona (CCCB), y la Fundación Teléfonica, que muestra las infraestructuras invisibles que dan vida a Internet. El vídeo revela la materia escondida de nuestros datos, explorando algunas de las máquinas a través de las cuales “la nube” se transmite y se transforma. […]

  34. Conociendo el lado tangible de Internet
    31 May 2014

    […] Internet, las máquinas e infraestructura que trae a la vida la red y la distribuye a los usuarios. Internet machine nos transporta a uno de los data-centers más grandes del mundo, propiedad de Telefónica, […]

  35. Smartbomb Creative Studio
    1 June 2014

    […] For more info check it out here. […]

  36. Gr8! #datacenter visualisation by @timoarnall #Int... - Tobias Groenland
    2 June 2014

    […] #datacenter visualisation by @timoarnall #Internet #machine vimeo.com/95044197 elasticspace.com/2014/05/intern… #cloud #bigdata […]

  37. See Behind the Scenes Photos of the Internet’s Hidden Infrastructure « adafruit industries blog
    2 June 2014

    […] week, Wired published a piece on artist Timo Arnall’s recent work Internet Machine, which documents the physicality of the […]

  38. Robert
    3 June 2014

    Nice artisctic approach to show the real world behind the intangible internet. Without the physical infrastructure of data centers, there won’t be any internet. The real heart of the internet is a network of multiple huge carrier-neutral data centers throughout the world, owned and operated by multiple companies, each one filled with tens of thousands of connections. This diversity both in location as well as in ownership and interconnectivity represents the real strength of the internet. Any single (for now empty) data center owned by a telco carrier – like the one in Alcala – can never even be close to pretending to be of importance to make the internet function.
    In the year 2009, Nicholas Carr wrote a nice book about it: http://www.amazon.com/The-Big-Switch-Rewiring-Edison/dp/0393333949
    For a complementary 3D video representation of a modern data center, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXe0GGA2VNM

  39. Internet machine de Timo Arnall | Watercooling.fr blog
    3 June 2014

    […] Internet Machine,  c'est l'intitulé du film multi-screen du réalisateur Timo Arnall. Celui ci explore les infrastructures des datacenters qui font tourner le réseau mondial. […]

  40. Internet Machine Shows the Physical World of the Internet - Direkt Concept
    3 June 2014

    […] where the hell all of this information is stored ? Internet machine is a multi-screen film by Timo Arnell about the invisible infrastructures of the internet. The film reveals the hidden materiality of our […]

  41. Internet Machine: una película sobre las infraestructuras invisibles de la Internet ← Technophia
    7 June 2014

    […] Internet Machine es una mini película multi-screen, producida por Timo Arnall, el Centro de Cultura Contemporánea de Barcelona (CCCB), y la Fundación Teléfonica, que muestra las infraestructuras invisibles que dan vida a Internet. El vídeo revela la materia escondida de nuestros datos, explorando algunas de las máquinas a través de las cuales “la nube” se transmite y se transforma. […]

  42. Jonh
    11 June 2014

    Will this project be available for viewing online later on for international audiences?

  43. Jeremy Electronic
    11 June 2014

    I echo the sentiment of everyone else that I’d love a regular single-screen version of this on DVD or as a paid-download… I guess I’ll add ‘check if there is a proper release of Internet Machine for the rest of us’ as a yearly recurring task in my calendar system.

  44. Internet machine | The Tech Block
    11 June 2014

    […] Internet machine is a multi-screen film about the invisible infrastructures of the internet. The film reveals the hidden materiality of our data by exploring some of the machines through which ‘the cloud’ is transmitted and transformed. Learn more here. […]

  45. 6 Stunning Photos of the Internet’s Hidden Infrastructure | Collecting Nug
    13 June 2014

    […] Timo Arnall, a designer and artist from London, has documented these hidden spaces his new project Internet Machine for Big Bang Data. And it turns out that these spaces are actually quite […]

  46. Infovore » Links for May 8th through June 17th
    18 June 2014

    […] Internet machine – Timo Arnall "In this film I wanted to look beyond the childish myth of ‘the cloud’, to investigate what the infrastructures of the internet actually look like. It felt important to be able to see and hear the energy that goes into powering these machines, and the associated systems for securing, cooling and maintaining them." Looks beautiful: Timo's customary look in enveloping, three-screen 4K. Gosh. Also: the uses of stills-as-film is really interesting to me at the moment. (tags: internet infrastructure environment photography film ) […]

Leave a Reply