The Undersea Network
Short-Circuiting Discursive Infrastructure: From Connection to Transmission
This chapter examines the popular and industrial representation of undersea cables. It argues that most stories about undersea cables fit into one of two narrative modes: connection narratives and disruption narratives. The chapter traces these narratives’ spatial and temporal limitations: they only depict infrastructure when it is out of service and as a result, exclude the enormous amount of work involved in the upkeep of global systems. It also reveals how they reflect broader concerns about global interconnection rather than the material specificities of cable laying. The chapter then delineates two alternative forms of infrastructural representation, nodal narratives and transmission narratives, which disrupt the ideological power of narratives of connection and disruption. Analysing a series of films, magazine articles, and artworks, the chapter describes how these narratives’ might help viewers to engage with operational cable systems.