Digital Doubt outside the circle

These Networks In Our Skin

2021 By Mimi Ọnụọha
This image is shown to us from above. There is a large wooden table, with
various black and white cables. Around it, stand three people, they and in
the periphery of the image, one of them wears a glove, the other is cutting
the cables and the third is holding a metal bowl. They appear to be women.
Mimi Ọnụọha, video Still from These Networks In Our Skin, 2021. Courtesy of the Artist.

In These Networks In Our Skin, Mimi Ọnụọha brings a different perspective to understanding the infrastructure that powers the internet. Ọnụọha is an American-Nigerian artist and researcher whose work questions the neutrality of technology and how it reflects the norms and values of those who create it — from choices about which data is collected and on whom, to the power dynamics of the technological infrastructures we rely on. In this short film, Ọnụọha uses a narrative form inspired by traditional Igbo/mbari rituals from South-Eastern Nigeria performed to address problems with items in and beneath the land. In this sequence, four women come together to reimagine and remake the internet cables that lie under the ground and beneath the ocean floor.

The ritual in the film becomes a metaphor, a reminder of the disconnection between technological systems and the views, ideas and societal fabrics from which they emerge and that they ultimately impact. In this work Ọnụọha asks, what would it mean to not only observe the inequities in technological systems but to begin to reimagine them all together? What new models for technology would we develop if they were based on entirely different traditions?

These Networks In Our Skin, 2021 by Mimi Ọnụọha.