Philippe Braquenier

Philippe Braquenier (Mons, 1985) received his BFA in photography from the Helb Inraci in Brussels and worked for an advertising studio before continuing his career as an independent photographer. His artistic work has been exhibited in various places, notably in the Brussels Royal Museum of Fine Arts and the Aperture Foundation in New York. His work is often described as conceptual documentary. Because the themes he tackles are complex, Philippe strives to treat them with the rigour they demand. His attention to detail and the fact he sets equal store by the choice of camera angle and photographic precision are not an indication of gratuitous styling but a conviction that without these elements it is impossible to get across a clear message. Today we take a look at his series titled, Palimpsest.


Google Data Center – Baudour, Belgium – 20/08/02013 /// Google refused to grant me authorization to access its data center. During a meeting, the head of communication told me that “No one has ever come and no one ever will.”


Metas (Swiss Federal Office of Metrology) – Bern, Switzerland – 17/03/02014 /// FOCS 1 is one of five atomic clocks in the Time and Frequency Laboratory of METAS that provides the data used to compute Coordinated Universal Time. It will lost one second in 30 million years.


Pionen Data Center, Stockholm, Sweden – 04/11/02014 /// Pionen is a former civil defense center built in the White Mountains Södermalm borough of Stockholm, Sweden in the 01970s to protect essential government functions from nuclear strike. It was converted into a data center by the Swedish Internet service provider Bahnhof.


In our state of full-blown digital intoxication, in our reliance on technology, we need to face up to the fact that digital technology is not the solution but a new issue. It is paradoxical that at a time when humanity is creating and storing more information than at any other time in history, it is doing so by means of the most unstable and precarious methods ever used.

Our species can’t seem to escape big data and we have now ceded many of our memory tasks to a hard drive in the cloud. We have essentially handed over our knowledge so search engines. Our life, our memories, our society increasingly exists as bytes of information. But there is a major risk that this data could bel ost in the wake of an accelerating digital revolution. A digital dark age could leave historians with no record of the 21st century. If an accumulation of knowledge through the ages is the cornerstone of a civilisation, then we need a sustainable means of recording information.

Palimpsest is a project about knowledge and legacy. It aims to discuss the challenges of ensuring the sustainability of our data and the infrastructures needed for it to last. Those people and places barely known by the population embody, in my opinion, the major issues of civilization. Palimpsest explores the complexity of these places and gives them a photographic consistency that does not exclude any kind. These intertwined categories feed a synthetic and distanced vision from incredible situations.


University of Neuchâtel – Neuchâtel, Switzerland – 18/03/02014 /// This is one of the tiniest miniaturized atomic clocks in the world. The goal is to insert this type of clock in portable devices (phones, computers and PDAs) to improve synchronization in communication networks and increase transfer rates through high accuracy coordination between devices.


States Archive of Belgium / National Archives 2 – Joseph Cuverlier repository – Brussels, Belgium – 08/10/02015 /// Based in classified buildings on the heritage list as monument, the National Archives of Belgium 2 was rebuilt and extended several times, occupying 500 neighboring plots in total.


Competitor at the World Memory Championship in London – 02012-02013 /// Here is a portrait of memory competitors at the World Memory Championship. Created in 01991 by Tony Buzan. Over the years the competition has been dominated by Germans, as well as competitors from China and the UK.


Space Station Data Center – Kista, Sweden – 05/11/02014 /// Bahnhof company is creating its first modular data center. The design looks like a space station and features “The Dome,” an inflatable central vestibule that will house security staff.


ARNANO – Grenoble, France – 20/03/02014 /// ARNANO company created a perennial support that can stay intact for several millenniums. It allows engraving a numerical document under analogical form with a very strong reduction (10.000 A4 page / disk).


CERN Data Center – Geneva, Switzerland – 19/03/02014 /// CERN’s Data Center is in a building built in the 70’s. All servers in the main room of 1,450 m2 is the level 0, the first point of contact between the Large Hadron Collider experimental data and the Grid. The LHC experiments produce over 30 petabytes of data per year. Due to its structure not meant to host a Data Center, IT department had to create a configuration to maximize the cooling efficiency.


Public Library of Stockholm – Stockholm, Sweden – 05/11/02014 /// The air in the basements of the Stockholm Public Library are polluted by Radon, a radioactive gas, occurring naturally as an indirect decay of uranium. A prolonged presence may cause lung cancer.


Royal Library of Belgium – Brussels, Belgium – 29/05/02012 /// Built from 01954 to 01969, the library currently has over 6 million volumes, 150 km of shelves spread over 17 floors for a total of 67 000 m2.


AT&T Tower – New York, USA – 15/07/02015 /// The Long Lines Building is one of the world’s best connected buildings. It was designed to be entirely self-sufficient and the ability to survive a nuclear blast. It is supposed to be a huge player in the NSA’s surveillance program.


Archaeological Areas of Pompei – Pompei, Italy – 21/08/02015 /// Pompei attracts 2.5 million visitors per year. The city was well-preserved for two thousand years. However, once exposed, it has been subject to forces which have rapidly increased its rate of deterioration.


Grotte Chauvet – Vallon-Pont-d’Arc, France – 28/08/02015 /// The Chauvet Cave contains the earliest known and best preserved figurative cave paintings in the world, approximately 40.000 BP. The cave has been sealed off to the public since its discovery in 01994.


Pont d’Arc Cavern – Vallon-Pont-d’Arc, France – 06/07/02016 /// The Pont-d’Arc cavern is the perfect replica of the Chauvet cave. From hanging frames of metal, 150 km of metal rods shaped by hands are welded to form grids imitating the shapes of the rock.

To view more of their work please visit their website.