PicBod- Rethinking Imagery

As I was not completely happy with my images for my final body of work, I spent time thinking about what I could photograph; my previous images looked at the themes of deception, concealment and hidden. I looked at these themes as I thought they linked well to the idea of the online world and online chatrooms as you do not know who you will talk to and also what a person tells you could be a complete lie, linking to the idea of catfishing. I found it really hard to think of interesting but clear ideas for photographs that related to these themes; I decided to move away slightly from the idea of deception and hidden, and think back to the online world.

We take the Internet for granted now a days and I feel not many people really consider where or how we get it to our homes. I decided to look into this further.

  • ISP: An ISP is a company that gives you access to the Internet. You sign up for an account with an ISP in the same way as you do with a telephone or utilities company. ISPs are usually phone companies (for a DSL or fibre optic connection) or TV providers (for a cable or satellite connection).

  • Hardware: For a broadband connection, such as DSL, fibre optic or cable, you’ll need a broadband modem. This might be included as part of the start-up hardware from your ISP when you sign up for a broadband account or you might need to rent or buy a modem separately. If you plan to share Internet access with multiple PCs by using a home network, you’ll also need a router. (Sometimes a modem and router are combined in one device.)

I looked at the article How does the Internet work, the article gave me a clearer idea about the online world in a technical sense.

  • To understand the Internet, it helps to look at it as a system with two main components. The first of those components is hardware. That includes everything from the cables that carry terabits of information every second to the computer sitting in front of you.
  • These elements are connections. Some are end points — the computer, smartphone or other device you’re using to read this may count as one. We call those end pointsclients. Machines that store the information we seek on the Internet are servers. Other elements are nodes which serve as a connecting point along a route of traffic. And then there are the transmission lines which can be physical, as in the case of cables and fiber optics, or they can be wireless signals from satellites, cell phone or 4G towers, or radios.
  • All of this hardware wouldn’t create a network without the second component of the Internet: the protocols.Protocols are sets of rules that machines follow to complete tasks.


The set up of the internet is very interesting and something that not many people would think about or consider when using the internet. This idea of the ‘structure’ of the internet really interests me as it allows the connection between us and the online world, and in particular in relation to my work about people in the chatrooms. This made me think about the connection boxes that you see on the street. Not many people know exactly what they do, including myself, but I was aware they contained cables that are used for connection to the internet and telephone cables; these boxes could be something interesting to look at and so I decided to research into them a bit more.

When trying to find information on the boxes, I found it quite hard, without knowing the exact name, luckily I found a few forums where people were asking about the boxes, and some of the answers to the forums were useful for myself. I also looked at a few different websites that looked into these boxes.

“Just to clarify a few things. I am a BT engineer. We call the green boxes “cabs” short for cabinet. The correct term is pcp or primary connection point. There are smaller units called scp’s or pillars as we call them. As has been stated the BT ones are just places to divert lines like a patch panel and are helpful for testing lines and locating faults.

Some of the larger cable cabs hum I assume it’s a fan but I’ve never worked in them. I think it’s the larger ones that do that and I think it’s the cable equivilant of a telephone exchange, ie where the local “last mile” as it has been put meets the rest of the telecom core network.

“They are called “cross connection cabinets” and unless you live in Kingston upon Hull where Kingston Communications provides the telephone system then they will either belong to BT or Virgin ( Virgin was formerly Telewest ).
Telewest only cabled easy targets like new towns for cost reasons and now Virgin and other licenced providers in other areas lease lines off BT for ADSL and now I believe for “fibre to the cab” as well.
BT can estimate pretty much exactly the speed you will get using fibre to the cab, 76 is the sum of the upload and download speed by the way, and you will only achieve that speed by connecting your computer to the new router / modem by Ethernet cable, WiFi will be half that speed usually, but it does not matter that much as it is faster than most servers at present, and pretty handy if you are connecting lots of devices at the same time.
So it will likely be a BT cabinet and here are a few pictures to help you make your mind up;
For 76 Mb to be available it should be a very new and large cabinet with a big sticker on the front bearing the legend “fibre broadband is here”, or something similar as the best you can get with ADSL copper wires to the cab is about 20Mb
You might want to have a look at Plusnet who are actually owned by BT, but have an English call centre;
The effects on your speed by the distance to your cabinet have been largely overstated, it might have once been the case, but technology has advanced and now it does not matter so much.
I have BT Infinity and the new fibre optic cab is actually further away from my house than the old copper cabled cab was and get exactly the combined speed that was forecast by BT, 49 Mb, used to get 19 Mb.
Regards, ex BT Bob.

“At present BT’s dominant Fibre-to-the-Cabinet(FTTC) solution only runs a fibre optic cable to your local street cabinet, while the “last mile” connectivity into homes simply runs over the existing copper line.”

The boxes are used both for telephone communication as well as internet use; however I found it hard to find out exactly which box is used for which. This is an interesting idea that each box contains and ‘hides’ these different cables and forms of communications, they could be seen to echo the idea of the computer and how in online chatrooms they contain a lot of different people that are ‘hidden’ until you chose to talk to them. Also when walking around I noticed that even though quite a few of the boxes were similar, each had different marks or shapes, making them all unique, echoing the different people I have spoken to online.

I find these boxes very interesting and so I decided to focus on them as the subject for my imagery; they link well with the ideas around the online world and online chatrooms while also some of them are sources of this online world. For photographing them I needed to consider they way I framed them and looked at each different box; I took influence from the work of the Becher’s and their framing when photographing similar subjects.

Bernd and Hilla Becher photographed the architecture of industrialisation, focusing on subject like water towers, coal bunkers, blast furnaces, gas tanks and factory facades. Their photographs had a formal style to them; each subject they photographed they framed it exactly the same, and then presented the images in a set/grid to form a typology.

“The term ‘Typology’ was first used to describe a style of photography when Bernd and Hilla Becher began documenting dilapidated German industrial architecture in 1959. The couple described their subjects as ‘buildings where anonymity is accepted to be the style’. Stoic and detached, each photograph was taken from the same angle, at approximately the same distance from the buildings. Their aim was to capture a record of a landscape they saw changing and disappearing before their eyes so once again, Typologies not only recorded a moment in time, they prompted the viewer to consider the subject’s place in the world.”


The Becher’s work allowed comparison between the different subjects and gave each subject context in relation to the others in the series. In my own work I want to show this idea of comparison between the different boxes as they are all different even in small subtle changes. I plan to photograph a range of boxes focusing on the box and not so much the surrounding area, but however some surround will be visible and this will also affect the images and show the different locations of the boxes. In my images I will take the photograph from head on facing the boxes, composing it so it is centred. I will try to stand the same distance from each box so that comparison between the different box sizes can be made; however I understand that it may be hard to do this as the boxes are found often on the path ways by roads.


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