Svalbard Cable Project

Svalbard Cable Project, ceramic glazed or unglazed, postcard, print on papper, tape, plastic bag, dimension variable, june 2022, photo: Anne-Marie Dehon

Svalbard Cable Project, ceramic glazed or unglazed, dimension variable, june 2022, photo: Anne-Marie Dehon

 » The Cable:

I am lying at the bottom of the sea, the cold sea of the Artic. They called me Svalbard Cable System. Since 2004, I join the mainland of Norway and the Arctic island of Svalbard. I am the first cable that lies in the sea at this place. Before that, islanders could only communicate by radio and satellite.

I am a small jewel of technology. I am made of plastic, optic glass fibers, and copper. They gave me a strong armor made of steel wires, which helps me defend myself against possible attacks from outside. For the messages that I carry to travel all this distance, they have installed repeaters. They are beautiful amazing machines that make it possible to send my important messages without losing any content (“Submarine Cables And The Oceans: Connecting The World – UNEP-WCMC” 2021).

My technology replaces older cables that have been forgotten in the bottom of the sea. The first one was the telegraphic cable set up in the 19th century between Europe and the US. They made it from copper, textile and Gutta Percha rubber (“Submarine Cables And The Oceans: Connecting The World – UNEP-WCMC” 2021). It was an adventure to put it in the sea without breaking it, they tried so many times, but always this so long cable was breaking. Thanks to the rubber, they finally managed to put it (Verne 1977,p. 492). They promised an eternal life to this material (Verne 1977, p.493), but it has been abandoned. The cable is still there, but nobody cares anymore. It does not carry messages any longer. That was the same story for the other cables, like the telephonic cable. But my own technology is a revolution, and I am sure that they will never abandon me.

The discussion about who would own me has been heated, and difficult. They all wanted to own me. Telenor failed. Finally, it is Space

Norway that takes care of me. I am essential for sending information coming from space to scientific stations on the continent. Maybe you don’t know, but the north pole is the place where there is the best connection with the satellites in orbit around the earth. Up there, they are saying hello every hour and a half (Henry, Fountain 2021). I receive messages from these satellites and send them to the mainland.

The scientists who live and work on the island are so happy that I am there. For the people as well, it has been a revolution. It is true that they already had internet coming from the satellites, but it was so slow… Thanks to me now, they have the fastest internet on earth (Warf 2011) (maybe I am a bit exaggerating… but its nearly right!).  The island of Svalbard and Norway are now back in the race for the Arctic internet!

Since cables have been put at the bottom of the sea, they are threatened by animals and human activities  (“Submarine Cables And The Oceans: Connecting The World – UNEP-WCMC” 2021, p.33).  This is terrible. If it’s not the shark teeth, it’s fishing that damage our beautiful envelopes. This is catastrophic for my messages. »

Source: Anne-Marie Dehon, Svalbard undersea cable project, MA thesis, Hdk-Valand, 2022.

CREDITS: Kerstin Wijk-Broströms Stiftelse (Swe),  Estrid Ericsons Stiftelse (Swe), Slöjdföreningen (Swe), Adlerbertska scholarship (Swe).