Evan Roth’s Voices Over The Horizon is the product of a road trip to Cornwall made by Roth in August 2014, to the point where transatlantic fibre-optic internet cables come ashore. These cables carry approximately 25% of the world’s internet traffic. Roth’s exploration of the landscape serves as an attempt to physically connect to and visualise the internet, making this important component of contemporary society less abstract.
To The Waters And Wild (2015) shows a YouTube video of a family on the beach at Pothcurno in Cornwall, where the internet cables are laid. The mechanics of the fibre-optics are revealed by a laser beam that plays the clip on a TV. Beneath the monitor is a Maneki-neko, a supposedly lucky Japanese cat ornament, whose endless beckoning motion interrupts the laser signal, jarring and scrambling the video clip. I thought this work was quite funny and somewhat hypnotic. Watching the screen, which flashes blue at every interruption of the signal, is almost infuriating, as you attempt to string together the piecemeal visuals of the clip. This is reminiscent of the hazy recollection of a half-forgotten dream or memory which, coupled with the playful beckoning cat, brings a poetic resonance that contrasts with the sparse mechanical aesthetic of the piece.
Burial Ceremony (2015) is 2km of GYTA53 direct bury fibre-optic cable, arranged in a figure of eight, or infinity symbol. It was alright.
My favourite pieces in the exhibition were Benben (2015) and Total Internal Reflection (2015). Total Internal Reflection collates footage from Roth’s trip, filmed using a full-spectrum camera, the kind typically used for “ghost-hunting”. The accompanying sound was recorded on location using a ‘ghost box’, a device built by Roth to scan radio frequencies. The resulting audio is a cacophony of bleeps, ambient sound and white noise that evokes the idea of chaotic, intersecting signals. Alonside Benben, a half-scale model of a stone pyramid that marks where cables meet land, this works really well and gives the work a sense of the mystical. The gallery space is transformed into a site where nature meets with culture and science with superstition. The sound, pyramidal structure and lighting worked well together to create a theatrical atmosphere, that made me feel as if I had stumbled upon some sequestered Pagan ritual for the digital age.