It started with a workshop by Dewi de Vree & Patrizia Ruthensteiner // wearable antennas – sonification of electromagnetic fields (www.patriziaruthensteiner.com ; http://www.dewidevree.org)
During a two day workshop the goal was to design and execution wearable antennas in order to pick up and record the sound of the electromagnetic fields in our surrounding. Everything has such an electromagnetic field. The earth has a very big and strong one, but also every human. Lightswitches sound different than electric doors, cars, or the sun.
For the opening of an exibition from Patrizia and Dewi (plus others) the workshopmembers presented their results in a procession through the streets of Groningen. Listening to their surroundings.
The workshop can be seen as an entry point to my interest in the tangibility of non perveivable structures arround us. I am thinking that by giving an electromagnetic field, a plant, or time for that matter, a “voice” by letting it sing or draw, within it´s own rythm – we might get closer to understanding that there is more to an existance than the stuff we see or are being shown.
By playing with the phenomenon of sonification and data visualization using the given possibilities in technology, technological processes are a lot easier to understand. With understanding comes learning and literacy, and this literacy can then lead to evolution – to something new, away from Instagram filters and like addiction.
“I saw frequencies in Smit’s pictures, heard them in his music and felt them in the intimate moments we had together. They combined the physical with the digital; they were wave-lengths. A symbiosis of signals. They were the redness of red.
The light coming from the sun, enabling life on earth, was electromagnetic radiation. Any vehicle roaming the streets, power plugs and electrical light sources, had electromagnetic fields surrounding them. Every human was host to his own electromagnetic field. Invisible structures, owners of a spacial dimension, invisible to the eye, not to be heard or felt in most situations. Un-perceivable by the human system. By coincidence Smit stumbled across ways to make these spaces experienceable. He built a frequency amplifier, using copper wire. Shaped coils of the conductive material were used in order to catch the electromagnetic fields surrounding him. He build himself a sort fishing rod, a wearable crane that he could strap around his body. Attached to the heavy steal frame was a selfmade audio amplifier and a dangling drum – holding the coils. With the greatest pleasure he paraded the streets; listening to the world, rather enjoying the soundscapes he was able to pick up through his system. I often browsed through his collection of captured fields, enjoying his gusto. A fellow human, with whom he had build the initial structure and who was usually wearing a helmet, shared the experience. Together they wandered about, listening to the noise scares they were able to perceive through their wearable system. Once I even spotted them amplifying the noise to the world around them, but mostly they enjoyed the private and enclosed experience through a system of headphones.”
Taken from: Mr Smit & the psycho algorithmic machine (MA Thesis, Hantschel, Klaas Hendrik); in reaction to myself and life
Another example for the visualisation of invisible structure or maybe more the reverse action of removing everything that actually is physicaly present was a series of analogue pinhole photographies that I have taken in the year 2015. The title of the project was “the empty city”. I moved to generally crowdet places and took photos with my self build camera. The result is a series of four big format pictures (250cm x 120cm) that show the traces of human activity throughout the timeframe of a few hours.
A thrird example I want to give is the usage of computer code (Processing.org) in order to create procedual images. Given physical attributes the computer is able to draw “random” forms. These interpretations of procedure can differ a lot in outcome.
The organic feeling structures are a good example of how a computer works. Some of the output imagery has an almost natural feeling about them.
While the actual procedure does not stop, these pictures are moments in time, frozen in the moment where the button is being pressed, much like photographing in the analogue world, it is one frame of a moving and evolving situation.