THE WIRE: SOUTHEAST ASIA EDITION

Remko Tanis • 24 December 2018

Downtown Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

There’s four people sitting by the Tonle Sap river, which flows through Phnom Penh. Two guys on the right here, having a riverside dinner served in a styrofoam box from a takeaway, sitting on the wall. A stack of plastic chairs ended up blurred and unused.

They’re communicating.

Then there’s two women, on the left. They seem to notice something in our direction. The woman in the pink-purple dress on the right is holding a phone. The sun has already set about an hour ago, but she’s kept her phone’s screen on bright.

I wonder if any of her communications pass through that staple of Southeast Asian city streets: that enormous tangle of wires hanging from this pole, tied together -if at all- with whatever seemed to be lying around.

It’s great seeing infrastructure that’s so often hidden just hang around on a pole. A reminder that there still have to be cables somewhere.

Not just the huge ones lying on ocean floors connecting internet traffic between continents. Much more often it’s single little wires like these, leading from a giant wad into the windows of apartments, connecting a single phone, router, modem.

Cut a wire like this and the signal goes dead.

I’ve had my fair share of obsession with the wire in Southeast Asia. So, without further ado:

Remko Tanis