Telepathic Mice

Stéphane Degoutin et Gwenola Wagon

Data center et souris


Telepathic Mouse is a sculpture of a data center. On the model, the arrangement of the mirrors repeats to infinity the server aisles, typical of data center architecture. Live mice occasionally colonize the model during events.

The radical Italian architects of Archizoom (No Stop City) and Superstudio (Continuous Monument) – both projects date from 1969 – postulated a gridded city, exaggerating the standardization of environment and communication – merging the models of the factory and the supermarket.

Today it is the isotropic, immaculate and sterile aisles of the data centres that are bathed in equal light. Mice explore the model as they make their way between the aisles and the machines. They move through the corridors, scouting the terrain for their community, stopping in front of some servers. Noises suggest that they are starting to nibble at the cables.

Mouse Telepaths evokes an experiment led by Duke University researchers who, in 2013, brought two rodents together through the inside of the brain. The researchers then unite ten rats, then a hundred, then a thousand. The connections are wireless. A meta-rat brain is created. No one knows exactly what it produces (the rats' thoughts are not yet deciphered), but the rats' behaviour has changed. The cohesion of the group is striking.

Umwelt rat network

Umwelt rat network is a setting for a scene from the film World Brain, showing a colony of rats exploring a data center. World Brain deals, among other things, with the physical space occupied by the data circulating on the Internet  the technical device formed by all the data centers in the world, as well as their connections (mainly underground and undersea cables), i.e. a very vast ensemble, with blurred contours, a space whose grip is global, but which is located outside the world, externalized, protected from human society, the natural environment and geography. This infrastructure forms an environment designed for the well-being of data. Like a zoo, it is intended to house a non-human species. World Brain interrogates the Umwelt (or proper environment of a species, after Jakob von Uexküll's expression) of data by apprehending it from the inside, adopting as much as possible the point of view of the data.

Environments such as data centers are characterized by a very high degree of hermeticity, combined with optimal network access and a high degree of automation. In this context, it is strictly unthinkable that animal species could infiltrate or even colonize it, any intrusion being made impossible.

Rats, whose adaptability has been enhanced by decades of research on them to treat the human species, are invading the data center networks. In these sterilized and automated spaces, heaps of servers are progressively occupied by rodents, disrupting what remains of an environment that has become hermetic to our own humanity. A colony of rats invades these places, it takes them over to make a burrow, creating galleries, nesting in the servers, accumulating excrement, nibbling on the cables.

The data center becomes the Umwelt of rats in the era of networked machines.


Exposition Média Médiums, Galerie Ygrec, Paris 4 avril - 31 mai 2014.

Exposition Convergences: l'art et le numérique en résonance, Maison Populaire, Montreuil 15 janvier - 4 avril 2015


Construction : Martin Gautron

Photos : Guillaume Onimus

Production : Irrévérence Films