Permanent Data

Permanent Data is a 12km glass fiber Direct Access Cable (DAC) on which a custom made text is printed. A DAC cable is normally used to be buried and to connect households to a digital network. Printed on the cable is the full Gutenberg Bible mixed with contemporary Youtube comments.


The Gutenberg Bible was one of the first mass-produced printed books in Europe in the 1450s.
Printed by Johannes Gutenberg on his wooden printing press it marked the start of the ‘Gutenberg Revolution’. Today only forty-nine physical copies have (partly) survived. The Gutenberg Bible is mixed with Youtube usernames and comments that were found below videos on topics such as bitrot, data loss and (failed) back ups.


Both text sources come from a medium that, in their time, revolutionised the way information was accessed, shared and used. Now they’re connected through the question of how information survives. Physical paper is deemed a long lasting source of information, if stored in the right way. Digital storage, through cloud systems and hard drives, is thought of as future prove but at the same time extremely fleeting. What of Youtube is accessible in 500 years?


A cable is infrastructure to transmit data. However, the physical cable itself might very well outlast the data it transmits. Permanent Data therefore becomes an artefact combining the ephemeral nature of digital data and the durability of physical information and perhaps offers a solution on how to prevent a digital dark age.


Permanent Data was made possible with the generous support of Utrecht Down UnderMondriaanfonds and Fonds21.
The DAC cable was manufactured by Twentsche Kabelfabriek.
The printing was done by De Koningh.


2020, 1,5 x 1,5 x 2 meter
12km custom printed DAC glass fiber cable,  wooden cable reel and cable reel holder.


With help by
Twentsche Kabel Fabriek (TKF)
Ludwig Loxley (De Koningh)
André Trip (De Koningh)
Jeremy van den Anker (De Koningh)
Ferdy Guliker (Digital Mass)


Photos by
Gert Jan van Rooij

Installation view, Utrecht Down Under, 2020
Close up of cable reel showing Latin Gutenberg Bible text with added Youtube Comments on bitrot.
Permanent Data (2020)
Close up of very first line Gutenberg Bible.
Close up cable and Youtube comment print
Close up cable and Gutenberg Bible print
Close up cable and Youtube comment print
Close up cable and Youtube comment print
Installation view, Utrecht Down Under, 2020
Close up cable reel
Permanent Data (2020)
Production still: printing cable has finished. Right cable reel is the entire Gutenberg Bible.