Exhibitions & Events



Lost Prairie Valley

Planetary Bayou

Field Guide to Environmental Crime: Houston and the Oil Coast

Dead Zones

Extinction Simulation Landscapes

Lunar Mosaics

MacDowell Trilogy

Humans Lived Here Once

Whole Life Academy

Comfort in Hydrology

Uncanny Sensing, Remote Valleys

Water Castle

Radio Aporee Sound Map

Midstream at Twilight



Forest Threnody

Big Hill Petro-glyphs

Current State

Points of Presence

Brandenburg Series

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Sonic Boom Archive

Johnston Island Saturday Night

Suspension of Disbelief

Quantum Danube


Culpeper Media Bunker

A Doubting World

“... the floors of silent seas”

Background Listening Post

Regional Spatialities

Dark Places

Ultimate High Ground

American Oil Vol. I

Kleine Stücke von Berlin


Playas Townsite

Shepard Inversion Ghost


Shock + Awe

Gloom & Doom / Tactile Air

Routes of Least


Weather Radio

Site: Nonsite: Quartzsite

The Mountain Radio Project

Ballarat: Beneath Sentinel

CLUI Projects

Networked Nation


Urban Crude

CLUI Touchscreen

Texas Oil

Wendover, U.S.A.

CLUI Exhibit Posters

Pavement Paradise

Vacation: Dauphin

Dissipation & Disintegration

Terminal Island

Immersed Remains

Diversions & Dislocations

Emergency State

Loop Feedback Loop

A View into the Pipe

Ground Up

Nellis Range - Revisited

West Coast Points

The Best Dead Mall


Antarctic 1

One Wilshire

Alternate Routes

Proximity Issue

Back to the Bay

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© 2024 Steve Rowell


Steve Rowell

Points of Presence


Points of Presence is an investigation into the history, geography, and archaeology
of global telecommunications. The ruins of the proto-internet and internet tangled together and strewn across the sea floor.

This is a project about remote places, seemingly deserted, where two worlds were first connected, physically, by thousands of miles of invisible cables. Sparked by an invitation to conduct a tour at the Falmouth Convention in Cornwall in May 2010, I began researching and documenting sites in the UK, Canada, and USA that represent the history of telecommunications. A 2012 residency on Fogo Island at the far northeastern coast of Newfoundland helped to complete this fieldwork, allowing me to begin post-production on a video, a photographic exhibition, and a multi-media installation. The first telegraph cables installed in the mid-19th century physically connected Land's End and Newfoundland – literally plugging the old world into the new. Lying alongside this web of dark (dead) cables is today's fiberoptic network. Terabits of data per second flow beneath the oceans of the world in millions of miles of cables: hidden by the waves, buried beneath beaches, and protected inside nondescript little huts on every continent. Clues to the location of these sites can be found by the curious.

Groundwork 2018, Cornwall UK
Telegraph Museum Porthcurno June 21, 2018 - April 2019

The Way of the Shovel: Art as Archaeology
MCA Chicago November 9, 2013 - March 9, 2014

Gallery talk, Sat, Feb 8, 2014, 3–4 pm
Video documentation of installation at MCA

Steve Rowell’s two-screen slide projection focuses on the history of 19th and 20th century transatlantic communication technologies. The title Points of Presence refers to the technical term for a physical access point to the Internet. At the heart of Rowell’s investigative project is the very materiality of something as “virtual” as the World Wide Web. This photographic journey captures sites on opposing sides of the North Atlantic where submarine telegraph and analog telephone cables emerge from the ocean floor. The clicking of the slide projectors, another obsolete technology, contrasts with an ominous soundtrack of our connected world: an excerpted dictation of the “Stuxnet” code, the first successfully deployed cyberweapon.
- Wall text from the exhibition

The STUXNET virus was discovered sometime in 2010 after rendering a considerable portion of Iran's uranium enrichment equipment useless. The virus – which had infected computers in these facilities, gradually, covertly, spinning them out of control, causing physical and irreparable damage to them – has now 'gone wild' on the internet and in the black market. It is currently being transmitted via commercial fiber optic cables, running beneath the ocean, alongside the dead copper cables featured here. When creating (and viewing/critiquing) art work about the archaeology of the past and the present, we construct new ways of understanding where we’ve come from and where we’re heading. In doing so, we navigate, at this moment, the terrain of our collective past and potential future.

Some of my US research from this project went towards the making of the 2013 CLUI exhibition: Networked Nation: The Landscape of the Internet in America.

The sound component was fed through a parabolic ceiling speaker, meaning that the visitor had to be positioned directly beneath this speaker to clearly discern the words in the otherwise ambient sounding dictation of the cyberweapon code. Listen to this compressed extract: