Sunday, 16 November 2008

The human in the WiFi

Following on from my recent post Gaming and testosterone in the library, I thought I would check out the Barbican Art Gallery, as this is the gallery that put together the Game On exhibition which is now on at the State Library of Queensland. It is on the Barbican web site that I came across an interesting installation called Frequency and Volume by the Mexico-born, Canada-based artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.

"Working at the crossroads between architecture, sculpture and performance", Hemmer also makes use of technology; and it is this use of technology which is particularly interesting. Following is the text from the artists web site explaining how it works.

"FREQUENCY AND VOLUME consists of between 100 and 800 square metres of projected shadows which allow participants to scan the radio spectrum of the city with their bodies. As a shadow appears it tunes any radio frequency between 150kHz to 1.5GHz based on its position monitored by a video tracking system. The size of the shadow controls the volume gain of the specific audio channel. We can have 16 frequencies tuned simultaneously and the resulting sound environment is a composition controlled by people's movements. This piece investigates the contested radio space in the context of the increased surveillance of the body as an antenna. The system tunes all sorts of signals including air traffic control, short wave radio, cell phones, police, taxi dispatch, pagers and more."

Let's hope some Australian cultural institution picks up this exhibition as it adds a whole new (human) dimension to WiFi. It is also interesting in how it allows the audience part of the interactive process. There is a great video of this exhibition from when it was held in Mexico, it is at the artists web site at Enjoy.

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