The term ‘technological infrastructure’ typically brings to mind rows of cables, wires, and circuitry, arranged in a precise and deliberate order. It probably does not conjure images of creativity and imagination.
Granted, complex networks of machinery are exactly what one would find upon entering one of Google’s data centers, massive buildings which house the servers and fiber-optic cables necessary to power the world’s largest search engine. Though operations and protocol inside the buildings are rigid, Google has still found an outlet for creativity and a unique opportunity to partner with artists on the outside of its facilities through its Data Center Murals Project.
Vice President of Google Data Centers, Joe Kava, explains the artistic inspiration for the project: “because these buildings [data centers] typically aren’t much to look at, people usually don’t, and rarely learn about the incredible structures and people who make so much of modern life possible. To begin to change that, we created the Data Center Mural Project: a partnership with artists to bring a bit of the magic from the inside of our data centers to the outside.”
Through this initiative, Google supports artists who transform blank, boring data center facades into massive, multistory canvases. In Oklahoma, Google hired digital artist Jenny Odell to create a mural for the data center which serves much of the West and Midwest regions of the United States. Odell chose to create enormous, circular collages made up of imagery collected from Google Maps which emphasize modern infrastructure. In Belgium, street artist Oil-B painted his interpretation of ‘the cloud’ on the side of the data center responsible for operations in all of Western Europe. Each abstract cloud is composed of elements specific to the community, data center, and its employees.
While these are the only two murals at this time, Google hopes to expand the project, and is already in the process of installing murals on data centers located in Ireland and Iowa. Through its continual support of the arts, Google continues to reinvent and beautify the technology that drives modern life.