his project came about as a design discourse on digital technologies, and the invisible infrastructure underpinning it. I believe our interaction with this landscape of electromagnetic signals, described by Antony Dunne as Hertzian Space, can be characterised in the same terms as that with ghosts and spectra. They both are paradoxical entities, whose untypical substance allows them to be an invisible presence. In the same way, they undergo a process of gradual substantiation to become temporarily available to perception. Finally, they both haunt us. Ghosts, as Derrida would have it, with the secrets of past generations. Hertzian space, with the frustration of interference and slowness.
But it is these same traits of Hertzian Space that affords the potential for a spatially rich interaction with information systems, one that more closely resemble the interaction with real architecture. The challenge however lies in how to design with systems that are fundamentally invisible. Within the area of interactive design, there has been a rich body of work tackling the political and social issues that arises from invisibility of technology.
Arnall, Knutsen and Martinussen from the Touch Research project have created one of the most influential works in this, introducing the use of long-exposure photography and RSSI sensors to visualise and spatialise WiFi networks in Lightpainting WiFi. Digital Ethereal is greatly influenced by them and directly uses the techniques and principles first advanced in Lightpainting WiFi.
This project starts from the notion that wireless technology can be somehow ‘translated”—changing their modality into one which is tangible. This modality change is however always laced with cultural charges, which changes the nature of Hertzian Space. In order to take advantage of hertzian space, I advocate for a creative practice aimed at creating new objects, indexed to hertzian space, but which also captures the cultural and social complexity imbued in the use of such technologies. I call this new series of objects the digital ethereal.
The work documented in this page gives an account of the creative exploration I have developed in creating and understanding the digital ethereal. In so doing, I have blended together disciplines and techniques such as performance, photography, design, programming and electronics.