Project by Daniel Barry, Adam Laskowitz
The development of wireless networks has caused the creation of a seemingly limitless number of electronic devices. These devices inherently focus our attention on a specific bandwidth of the electromagnetic spectrum as they encode/decode the saturation of the signals around us into perceptible forms of communication. While general use often utilizes a single device and focuses on a limited frequency range, millions of electromagnetic frequencies continue to saturate the environment and consequently our bodies.
“Saturation” is constructed as a sort of enormous chandelier; a set of open aluminum boxes strung together from the center of the ceiling that act as Faraday Cages, preventing radios from receiving a signal. The installation utilizes FM radio broadcast as a proxy for experiencing network saturation, however is positioned within a larger framework of wireless network abundance in the continued growth of an invisible infrastructure. Each enclosure’s aggregation and directionality is determined through the installation’s spatial orientation in relation to the source of the broadcast, disrupting the signal’s reception and creating a field of static noise. When coming in close proximity to the radios, the absorption of EMFs by the body allows the radios to receive a signal as people move through the space. This engagement with the installation exposes a realization of the effects that bodies and wireless signals impose upon one another. While the installation provides the opportunity to experience this bodily relationship through a single radio, this experience becomes amplified by exposing the multitude of signals saturating the environment through the actuation of a single pulley. When the central rope is pulled, each of the enclosures are lifted from the radios and allow them all to instantaneously receive a unique radio signal. With this, the dense saturation of the environment is exposed through an eruption of sound, revealing the magnitude of signals present at any given moment. The installation is established as a didactic experience which makes tangible the inherent material properties of wireless networks and their saturation of the environment and our bodies.
Saturation was exhibited at at the Los Angeles Convention Center from August 5-9th as a part of the SIGGRAPH 2012 Art Gallery. As exhibiting artists in the conference, the project was additionally published in Leonardo Journal Volume 45, Issue 4, 2012. For more information, please visit the official SIGGRAPH website.
Daniel Barry and Adam Laskowitz presented their research project Saturation at the Critical Themes in Media Studies Student Conference hosted by The New School in New York City on April 13th and 14th. They participated in a panel discussion with multidisciplinary students from various universities throughout the country.