Data Server Rack
Data Server Rack, 2019
wood, hardware, paint, hay bailing twine
Commissioned by the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, this sculpture responds to the phenomenon of “Silicon Prairie” that is a result of venture capital for tech startups being funneled into agricultural states in the Midwest for the last two decades. In more recent years an increasing number of tech entrepreneurs and computer programmers in San Jose have been scouted by midwestern startups offering career opportunities competitive with the west coast. The relationship between the high tech industry and agriculture has a precedent in California’s Santa Clara Valley. The prosperous fruit industry which began in the 1880s was eclipsed by a rapidly growing tech sector financed by the defense department in the 1960s.
Within the same two decades that Silicon Prairie has attracted many young white male VCs to the Midwest, the USDA has been part of the largest civil rights lawsuit in the history of the United States because of loans being denied to black farmers for over a decade prior to 1996. After failing to adequately award settlements to petitioning farmers in the Pigford v. Glickman lawsuit, successive bills were authorized allowing additional farmers to apply for payouts. The most recent bill, Pigford II, was settled in 2010 for which applicable farmers didn’t receive payment until 2013.
This sculpture draws a parallel between the image of a data server rack: a modest utilitarian device usually unseen by consumers that provides the infrastructure for the cloud and technological growth, and a handmade hay bailing machine: a niche tool to alleviate costs for farmers, made from wood and found materials in order to create industry-standard bales of hay.
– American Artist