Deutscher Commercial Internet Exchange, or DE-CIX, is a carrier and data center-neutral internet exchange point (IXP) in Frankfurt. Thought to be the largest exchange point in the world, at least in terms of peak traffic, the DE-CIX handles a maximum throughput of more than 3.4 terabits per second.
Founded in 1995 by three Internet Service Providers, the DE-CIX was built to improve latency over the precious network which exchanges German traffic through the US. The ISPs took space in the disused back room of a post office, and by 2000, DE-CIX had become the largest Internet exchange in Germany and was ranked one of the larger Internet exchanges in all of Europe.
As the hardware at the location was steadily improved, DE-CIX began to attract networks from around the world and in particular, from Eastern Europe. The growth led to traffic upticks of up to 100 percent a year.
It was that fact that caught the eye of artist Vincent Brinkmann, a student at the University of the Arts – Bremen, and he decided to meld the shock of the new with the familiarity of the old for his EXtrace, a 3D printer which builds clay 3D models representing a visual depiction of the DE-CIX data throughput in layers.
Brinkmann's printer takes the data and then uses the clay, output to a spinning plate, to create a visual record of two day's data transfers in a vertical cylinder.
Brinkmann says EXtrace "reflects the change from quality to quantity of modern communication." He calls the resultant 'sculptures' a depiction of "a widely connected, fast paced and ubiquitous network of today's communication" where the data is "transformed and remapped to a physical data visualized clay sculpture."