Pushing the heavy metal door left ajar, I entered the subterranean nuclear bunker through a grey, dimly lit tunnel progressively unravelling the labyrinthine-buried circuitry of the interior structure. Outside, in the humid landscape of central Sweden, shreds of fog attached themselves to the canopy of pine trees. A mesh of sensations and ideas brutally imposed themselves: the uncanny muffled suspension of air, ancient tombs, hidden knowledge, reminiscences of mythological Greek caverns, profound fears and insecurities, telescoped fragments of literary readings from Lewis Carroll’s Alice to Plato’s cave and Lascaux’s grotto. Penetrating the bowels of the hidden architecture offered a temporal journey permeated with images of the Cold War and, simultaneously, a spectacle of James Bond–esque grotesque. It took a few hours of walking around to totally grasp the internal layout: the matrixing corridors, floors, multiple spaces, and rooms that stretch underneath a sixty-meter layer of Nordic granite protecting the former...
Beta Bunker: The Bunker Monolith and the Data Center at the Edge of Northern Geographies
Based in Paris and Normandy, Agnès Villette is a PhD candidate at Winchester School of Art, earning her practice-based doctorate in visual culture environmental humanities while investigating the radioactive ruins of the Norman territory of La Hague. She is also a freelance journalist with an art practice in photography. Originally trained in literature, she earned an agrégation in modern literature at Paris-Sorbonne University and then a master’s in art photography at London College of Communication. She is currently developing four art projects at the intersection of photography, writing, and theory: the photographic series Alien of the Species, which explores invasive insects and entomology; Beta Bunker, which researches bunker architecture and its current transformation into data centers; Haunted, her PhD research about the Norman peninsula and its nuclear Cold War legacy; and Landemer, a nonfiction narrative based on an unsolved crime that happened in 1969 in Cherbourg.
Born in France, Grégoire Dupond moved in 2018 to British Columbia, Canada, where he is a permanent resident and self-employed in the cultural industries. After training in the sciences, he studied industrial design at Les Ateliers ENSCI in Paris in the early 1990s, then, in London, designed and produced handmade textiles for fashion collection prototypes. He has produced works in video/3D illustration and animation, photography, interactive installations, and 2D/3D recording and processing for cultural heritage and art fabrication. A twelve-year collaboration with Factum Arte in Madrid, then Bologna, opened up practical and far-reaching alternative ideas and processes. He is exploring the problematics opened up by digital technologies, especially how meaning, aesthetics, and discourses are informed by cutting-edge processing, visualization, and fabrication processes. He is creating contemporary narratives in which physicality, science, and digital media coalesce.
Agnès Villette, Grégoire Dupond; Beta Bunker: The Bunker Monolith and the Data Center at the Edge of Northern Geographies. Cultural Politics 1 March 2020; 16 (1): 70–91. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/17432197-8017270
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