MATERIALS: Wifi network names, telephone, computer, ability to move around
MEASUREMENTS: a piece of paper, a small book, sometimes a screen
DESCRIPTION: Collected WIFI network names are being forged into poetry. These poems are a log of the artist moving, represent private spaces, that interact with each other, invisible marks of human presence and claim of space. The poems draw maps of cities and areas that can only be perceived by looking through the filter of a working WIFI receiver. Mostly this filter is build into the mobile telephone. While traveling the artist collects network names by making screenshots of the options given in different places. Also the artist takes pictures of the physical space that can later be linked to the poems. The collected names are being put into a database and later connected without the usage of further technology. The formed poems and the according representations of the physical world are being presented in form of spoken word. The plan is to later make a book. This physical form is being chosen on purpose as it plays with the digital – physical paradox of our time.
“A new form of communication grew, where different networks names reacted on each other – creating a new form of space.
Public noise, that needed a certain type of decoding in order to be
tangible. Smit thought that by bending the intention of the frequency in question, he could play with the mass psychological aspects and influences of the machine. Since joke paints a broader
picture about an issue that a complaint, Smit started to use his pocket sized personal computer as a decoder. Looking at his digital mirror, he let the machine guide him through the city in a fluid way. He realised that he was taking different routes than he would usually do. Navigated by the network names – showing up on his device – he forgot to look up, ending up in a whole other part of town. A place he had not gone before. A domestic area, where there was no shops or fast food places. There was nothing to be experienced here in the physical world. Not like in the city centre where there was life at all times. Where the light of the neon signs was mixing with the natural light – resulting in orange coloured night skies. Here, there was a lot to be perceived in the digital – the augmented space.
Wars were raging between virtual domestic territories. Network names reacting on each other – playing a game of chess. Things were said that were forbidden to be spoken out loud in the physical world. A more intimate form of communication – yet without any form of personal interaction. “Paradox”, he thought to himself. A world where there was so much distance between the humans that it seemed surreal. Smit started to collect the intimate – yet cold – personas that faceless humans had given to their access points. Soon he had one hundred, than two, than three. He started to collect in other cities as well, creating a logbook of himself moving through the physical world. These collections created maps of cities and areas. Abstractions of the human presence. He started to transform his logbooks into poems on paper. No words were added by himself. He read these poems to others. He spread them in both physical and digital form. He taught others the simple way of his doings. Soon he saw that this form of frequency translation and interpretation made more sense to others.”
Taken from: Mr Smit & the psycho algorithmic machine (MA Thesis, Hantschel, Klaas Hendrik); in reaction to Ingress, Pokemon Go (2016)
It is quite interesting I found how the comunication between the anonymos owners takes places in the same way and style in all of the places that I have researched this phenomenon thus far. It is a new form of action and reaction, that creates funny and often surprisingly creative network storylines. I myself am just the looking glass, while the owners of the access points are the ones who are creating poems within their frequentual reach. On the next block I will find a new story, a new tale of human presence. This gamification of discovering a place by walking through it in the physical, yet entirely steared by the digital information, showed – and continous to do so – me that there is more to our surrounding, and the perception of the same, than “just” what we can take in via our senses. Sometimes one needs a decoder of some sorts to be able to see. The role of the artist and the designder is to be that decoder.
I read the Poems in public for the first time @ “Notes of a dirty old man” in the Bar Bukowski, Amsterdam, NL, begin of the year 2017. Big Thanks to Marijn for giving me this possibility. We had a blast. The poems have their very own power being between absurdism and poetry, consisting of many words that are not being used in our daily use of language (and that for a good reason) and collected at random. Among the other readers, who were all very good, the poems stook out as something refreshing, not so dark as a lot of the modern prosa, yet still with a wink to the society we live in. Including the ups and the downs.
Feel free to look at the collection presented at the last reading and enjoy the journey through my personal WIFI log of the lovely city of Groningen, NL anno 2017: