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James Bridle’s Cloud Index

Screen capture from James Bridle’s Cloud Index, 2016, interactive website, www.cloudindx.com.

ALMOST TWO DECADES into the twenty-first century, we still haven’t found a language for the amorphous streams of data that constitute the internet; faced with the seemingly infinite complexity of information, we resort to vague abstractions such as ether, portal, air, or, often, cloud. Such terminology reveals that we think of our information as if it lived elsewhere, floating free from specific cultural or political contexts—as if it is not really real. In fact, of course, data is quite the opposite, more tangible, even, than most solid objects. Not only is it part of a vast infrastructure that encircles the globe, stored in massive brick-and-mortar facilities and transported through wires and cables, but its role in shaping the world around us—in molding our chosen truth—is profound.

British artist James Bridle explores precisely this interconnection between

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