series 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 &
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 proposes 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 will explore 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 will close with a final performance from participants.
include 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.
include 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.
specific technical requirements, participants are welcome to bring
laptops, GPS, wireless cards, access points, communications technologies,
radio's, large tins and juice cartons.
specific technical knowledge, participants are welcome to bring
objects (wire, tins, broken or functioning radios, cardboard, foil,
magnets, minerals) for wave-length explorations.
To register for the Newcastle lab please email
a short statement of interest and a biography by 3rd September '09.
Please include 'Howse lab' in the subject heading.
To register for the Dundee lab please email a short
statement of interest and a biography by 3rd September '09.
Please include 'Howse lab' in the subject heading.
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 revelation.