In a style that will be familiar from browsing today’s internet, Rezaire’s seventeen-minute video combines computer graphics with photography and text, mixing the lighthearted with the serious. Sitting in a cloud against a cascading backdrop of stars, an African woman complains over the phone about how Facebook blocked her for posting that ‘white people should give our land back’. She reappears later singing along to songs by Zac Efron. The video shows screen-grabbed examples of the way Google misrepresents and devalues black lives, employing memes to express an ironic outrage. Then a woman sings a song cheerfully in French and English, while dancing. This representation of the eclecticism of internet life shows the ways online spaces have been ‘colonised’ to serve the interests of neo-imperialist powers, while simultaneously giving a sense of the irrepressibility of the people who inhabit them.
Many of the fibre-optic cables that transmit the internet under the sea follow those of the 19th-century copper telegraph cables, which are themselves laid over the main sea routes of the Atlantic slave trade. Does this resemblance mean that slave routes and internet cables share deeper similarities? In Deep Down Tidal, Rezaire suggests it does, and she goes further. The sea routes are significant because water has a memory. Just as the internet circulates data around its infrastructure, so the oceans record and transmit information around the Earth. According to a logic of resemblances and an understanding of the universe derived in large part from African spiritual traditions, Rezaire makes the claim that ‘water is a communication interface’. Having witnessed so much horror during the colonial period, the water of the oceans is traumatised. It carries within its structure memories of the atrocities that took place amongst it: a spiritual pollution analogous to the physical pollution it has acquired due to industrialisation.