Earth Stations and Data Centers: Network buildings as transnational infrastructures and logistical media
Satellites orbiting in space are imperceptible and remote, but the signals they carry promise instantaneous access to events occurring almost everywhere on the globe. Similarly, data centers located above ground, underground and under water produce and sustain the ephemerality of “the cloud”. The global distribution of audiovisual content, and the immediacy of signal traffic emphasizes communication networks as fluid and distributed. However, both satellite networks and the Internet are anchored in the specific locations of the earth stations and data centers. The proposed project takes this situatedness as its vantage point. The aim of the project is to analyze and compare earth stations and data centers as nodes in transnational media infrastructures and logistical media. The project thereby develops knowledge on ongoing claims for global power as expressed through transnational media infrastructure. The project studies earth stations and data centers in a number of locations, drawing on primary sources stemming from archives, oral history, fieldwork. Research into satellites and the Internet converge in a push toward the study of media infrastructures, as well as the near absence of studies concerning their “home”, the buildings serving as hubs and hosts of the networks. The proposed project strives toward filling that gap, studying earth stations and data centers in order to understand the media infrastructures of which they are part.