Thursday, August 31, 2006

Spectrum wall-chart and WiFi "camera" make the invisible visible

WiFi Camera Obscura

According to BoingBoing, "The WiFi Camera Obscura uses a directional WiFi antenna as an aperture for taking 'pictures' [of] the radio energy from WiFi use in a room, and paints those pictures as a movie on a nearby wall. The pictures are lovely oil-slicks of revealed radiation..."

Here the energy from 3 different WiFi nets - each coded with a different color to distinguish them, even as they mix in space - are shown as an overlay on a photo of the room in which they were monitored:

WiFi made visible and overlaid on a photo of the room in which they were monitored

Tech-artists Usman Haque, Bengt Sjölén and Adam Somlai-Fischer are developing this system with support from folly and fast-uk. See the project website for more details and images.

The first version of "WiFi Camera Obscura" went on display last week at the National Museum of Art in Riga, Latvia, as part of "Waves," the 8th Art and Communication festival. A later version will be shown in Lancaster, England, at the "Perimeters, Boundaries and Borders" exhibition (29 September to 21 October 2006).

DSC04690 The Political Spectrum

Another piece in the Riga show is worth mentioning here: "The Political Spectrum" by Julian Priest and John Wilson (the co-founders of Open Spectrum UK). Theirs is a huge wall-chart showing the Baltic countries' frequency allocation tables, with data entries positioned according to the number of times an applicant for spectrum succeeded in changing a national allocations table. The Latvian part was left blank so it could be filled in during a public workshop on "spectrum politics." But people attending the exhibition started filling in the blank spaces right away - in effect claiming the spectrum as theirs.

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