Circuit, presented as both lecture and gallery installation, proposes the completion of a physical link between Utah’s Bingham Canyon copper mine and the National Security Agency’s new surveillance mega-facility. The NSA’s new $2 billion global surveillance datacenter in Bluffdale, UT, is a mere 13 miles from the Bingham Canyon copper mine, the largest man-made excavation on earth. In 1973, Robert Smithson proposed constructing a viewing platform for observing the spiralling processes of entropic dispersal at the mine. Circuit extends Smithson’s portrait of the Bingham mine by framing it as an enantiomorphic partner of the Utah Data Center, which makes use of telecommunication networks and equipment (largely copper-based) to funnel the communications of the entire world back to one central storage site. One site disperses while the other collects, though both “mine,” in different senses of the term.
A quote from the lecture:
I propose connecting these sites with 21 miles of copper wire, literally completing the final leg of a metaphorical circuit of electronics manufacturing, telecommunications, and state surveillance that spans the globe. At the site of the datacenter, I will install a lectern and microphone, where I will read aloud a list of secrets donated by the public to the project via the website utahdatacenter.org. Using technology from the early days of the telephone (technology still in use today in the mining industry), the single copper wire will carry my voice to the site of the mine. There, loudspeakers on a high ridge above will project the sound of the spoken secrets into the pit, effecting infinitesimally small physical changes in the raw copper ore as it waits to begin the next phase of the circuit.