of two 3-day investigations within complex city-wide spectral ecologies
constructed through subtle interactions between electrical and magnetic
fields (EMF) emitted by all electrical equipment, physical materials,
communication technologies (wireless networks, mobile phone networks,
RFID, television, radio, radar), power lines, biological phenomena,
and geological properties in Newcastle upon Tyne & Dundee, UK.
The Courier's Tragedy
by Martin Howse
25 & 26 September 2009 \\ Polytechnic [Newcastle upon Tyne]
Oedipa wondered whether, at the end of this (if it were supposed
to end), she too might not be left with only compiled memories of
clues, announcements, intimations, but never the central truth itself,
which must somehow each time be too bright for her memory to hold;
which must always blaze out, destroying its own message irreversibly,
leaving an overexposed blank when the ordinary world came back.
[The Crying of Lot 49. Thomas Pynchon. 1966]
The Courier's Tragedy is concerned with a submission of the medium
enacted by both ancient and contemporary communication systems.
The messenger is rendered redundant (literally killed) on delivery;
the message is that which really matters. The carrier can be discarded
in favour of a meaningful signal, and this is precisely what all
radio apparatus enacts, equally eliminating noise and uncertainty.
Expanding a clear concern with electromagnetic [EM] phenomena as
a question of substance, and extending the spectrum of artistic
concerns to embrace modern data space, this workshop attempts to
bridge this impossible divide between the physical (waves) and the
protocol (code); asking how, within complex spectral ecologies,
it is possible to examine and embrace both the carrier and the signal,
to observe the subtle interactions and inherent abstractions? In
this context, such an examination becomes a manner of revealing;
revealing another city, revealing new modes of communication and
transmission (hidden networks).
30 Sept & 1st October 2009 // Mills Observatory [Dundee]
The development of human eyes for the reception of radio waves …
is quite inconceivable… the real difficulty lies in the much
longer wavelengths of the radio spectrum, which make the accommodation
of a directive aerial array, or antenna, a difficult problem. In
fact, in any reasonable sized animal the aerial system would probably
determine the appearance of the animal to the exclusion of all other
[Radio Astronomy. F. Graham Smith. 1960]
Wave-length proposed an open exploration of the physical
characteristics of various wave phenomena: sound, light and radio,
with the latter two encompassed under the heading of electromagnetism
[EM]. Wavelength in all instances has a direct relationship to oscillation
and thus frequency, to resonance and to any form of change in time
and in space. In the case of radio waves, wavelength is translated
into a highly physical architecture of antennas, dishes and arrays
approximating patterns of reflection and refraction.
Whispering galleries and sound mirrors provide inspiration in the
audio realm. These fields can also be mapped to the microscopic,
with diminishing wavelengths, microwaves, leading into a light which
literally colours perception. Wave-length acts as a guiding principle
of scale and measure with detection or exploration determined by
the quasi-scientific expansion of sensory apparatus.
The wave-length workshop explored both sound and EM phenomena from
a spatial perspective: the construction of a landscape of antennas,
oscillators and detection or measurement devices using simple materials.
The workshop also closed with a final performance from participants.
included making sense of a landscape from a forensics perspective,
mapping of event intensity using GPS, reconstruction of unintentional
emissions, TEMPEST, cryptography, EM psychogeographics, data sedimentation,
data visualisation and forging of underground transmission networks.
included physical wave transitions, waveguide antennas, cymatics,
coils and self-made speakers, spark gap transmission, iron ore saturation
and magnetic fields in pottery, wave generation circuits, magnetometers,
electrometers, amateur radio telescopy, geophysical archaeology.
GPS, wireless cards, access points, communications technologies,
radio's, large tins and juice cartons.
vegetables, wire, tins, broken or functioning radios, cardboard,
foil, magnets, minerals) for wave-length explorations.
Howse is an artist, programmer,
theorist and film- maker. Martin gained a Fine Art BA degree at
Goldsmiths College, London. Martin has performed and collaborated
worldwide using custom, open software and hardware modules for data/code
processing and generation. In 2005, Martin was part of a team awarded
first prize in the VIDA 8.0 art and artificial life competition.
In 2006 he initiated xxxxx as a research centre in Berlin, Germany,
producing the acclaimed xxxxx [reader] and maintaining a series
of workshops. Martin also writes regularly for GNU/Linux/free software
publications and has participated in related conferences and workshops.
The Independent xxxxx research organisation examines the software
real, life and live coding, autodestructive strategy and crash-falsified