Exposing the hidden

Humans are all in all pretty awesome creatures. We’re pretty smart and we seem to have reached a point where we’ve built things we simply cannot use our ordinary sense to detect, so instead we’ve built devices to detect other devices for us, making them visible to us.
Wi-Fi is just one example of a massive network, which we through our smart phones and laptops use all the time- but we can’t detect ourselves. Which neatly brings us to Immaterials: Light painting WiFi, by Timo Arnall, Jørn Knutsen and Einar Sneve Marinussen.

By using light painting and a long rod including 80 lights, it can detect a Wi-Fi signal strength, which they’ve laid bare in the hidden Wi-Fi network of Oslo. It’s cool looking and all, but more than that, it shows us how networks we’ve built interact with more solid structures all around the city. It gives the Wi-FI network a sort of ethereal quality and makes me want to go measure other signals and hidden street life in the same way.
A side effect of light painting, which by the way entails moving light sources around in a camera frame as the camera takes a photo with a long exposure time, means that almost no human life is visible in these images, it’s just the city and the network interacting in a surprisingly organic way.

If you want to know more you can read a bunch about the project over here.

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