Portfolio: the physicality of digital infrastructures

For Milan Digital Week, Raumplan and Delfino Sisto Legnani discover the hidden places hosting the physical component of digital infrastructures.

Behind the simplest gestures of our daily lives - telephoning, buying an object online or taking a train - there are complex infrastructures and often lots of people controlling the flow and functioning of particular processes.

According to American architect and academic Keller Easterling, author of the book Extrastatecraft. The Power of Infrastructure Space, in city planning, the “active” form – understood as the set of norms, protocols and software that regulate urban space – is now more important than the “objective” form, which is the one most commonly designed by architects and urban planners.

RAI. Photo Delfino Sisto Legnani
RAI. Photo Delfino Sisto Legnani

Easterling invites us to change our gaze and focus on infrastructure performances, in order to better understand the complexity of economic and political relations behind even the most banal forms and gestures.

This change of perspective is what the photographer Delfino Sisto Legnani and the research collective Raumplan propose for the Milan Digital Week with a visual research entitled Infrastrutture Digitali per Milano (Digital Infrastructures for Milan).

Data centres, logistics hubs, TV studios, underground stations, operative stations... the authors investigate and photograph hidden landscapes scattered throughout the metropolitan area. These places are physical nodes that connect networks and levels at different scales: user, interface, address, city, cloud, earth.

The aim of the project is to show these ambiguous and intermediate environments, formed by tangible components and materials but essential for being part of an invisible digital system that accompanies our lives. Even if they are places not conceived for human beings, they display a rational fascination that is typical of present-day architecture.

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