Diving in Aether
Where, when and who
09:00 - 13:00
Location: WH.02.125 (Interaction Station) and the great ourdoors
Facilitators: Matthias Hurtl and Yoana Buzova
Doorn, Joost van
Surrounded by noise
Together we will explore the world of electromagnetic waves and their omnipresence in our lives. We will materialize the invisible, making it audible. With sound artist Matthias Hurtl (https://drowning.in/aether/research) (in collaboration with the Interaction Station) we will build antennas, hunt and capture satellite signals and other electromagnetic waves that fill the aether. The Æther is a medium that was once supposed to fill all space and to support the propagation of electromagnetic waves, an intervening substance through which signals can travel as a means for communication. We will delve into the narratives of the invisible signals around us that illustrate the expansive, systemic, and geological attributes of the technosphere. We will build antennas, learn about SDR (software defined radio) and conclude the elective by performing a signal hunting ritual. We will work at the Interaction Station and outdoors.
Unheard unfiltered Ambience
Let's call it hearing EMF, or using sort of 'microphones for electromagnetic fields' to expand our own human senses.
First, let’s talk electromagnetic fields. Just like gravity, these fields extend throughout nature. Since we have electricity and electrically-charged stuff pulsing all around us, there’s a lot happening in the electromagnetic field. But we can’t perceive that, because our bodies lack sense organs equipped to do so – well, until now, that is. Now we’ve invented devices that translate to things we can sense. Think of it as expanded sensory perception for the transhumanist, technologically augmented age.
Various artists have built electromagnetic detectors that you can use for just listening, music, art, you name it. We will explore some of those and what they let us hear.
LOM's Electrosluch an open-source device for electromagnetic listening. It allows one to discover sonic worlds of electromagnetic fields, surrounding our every step. Just plug your headphones & explore.
It has two inductors, allowing for stereo audio signal. It also has an onboard opamp. It brings about rather directional, close distance, intimate listening.
LOM's Priezor is an open-source passive magnetic antenna for electromagnetic listening. It is very sensitive and capable of capturing faint atmospheric events in VLF radio bands. Compared to regular Elektrosluch, it is less directional and focused, and therefore more useful in recording ambient electromagnetic fields, where the overall "sound of the place" is desired. If built as intended has a frequency response: 20 Hz – 90+ kHz
Something in between
SOMA's Ether has a regenerating circuit and a demodulator, making it an actual radio wave receiver, not just an amplifier of low-frequency magnetic fields. However, ETHER can perceive the low-frequency magnetic fields as well.
The engineer writes that ETHER is very sensitive to any kind of digital circuitry that’s in close proximity. This is why I didn’t put an SD-card recorder or something like that inside. You also have to make sure to keep other electronic devices that you carry (phone, laptop, recorder) at least 30cm/1ft away to avoid interference, but ETHER definitely works well when you walk around with a smartphone and laptop in other pockets and bags.
Those notes are very rough guidelines to what Matthias talked about in the presentation (slides also in the Files section). This is the best we can do for those who missed the first class. The presentation is a bit loo large to upload here, so find it on teams here
Wireless signals interpenetrate our environments, they are performing operations outside of our awareness and form the infrastructure of life today.
We depend on wireless signals and most of our electronic devices transmit
It is actually hard not to transmit.
Every change in the electric current changes the magnetic field, and a change in the magnetic field changes in the electric field.
All electronic devices have a kind of aura.
One just needs the right antenna to tune into specific regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Today I want to talk about radio transmissions. Radio functions in the acoustic register as well as in the Aelectrosonic register.
An electrical and electromagnetic equivalent of the Aeolian, i.e., the musical and aesthetic production of Nature by the wind (mechanical energy/aeolian bells)
We usually think of radio as a medium that is sensitive to sound waves. But radio is also sensitive to the electromagnetic fields of the earth and ionospheric atmosphere.
The Ionosphere is 80 - 1000km above the earth's surface and contains high concentration of ions and electrons. it is able to reflect radio waves.
Radio is a transducer of the electromagnetic field of the earth.
Radio is human technology but also cosmic technology.
Guglielmo (gujelmo) Marconi was the father of radio. He was the first person to send messages wirelessly with a a so called spark gap transmitter. (morse code)
There have been other scientists proir that layed the foundation for him.
James Clerk Maxwell theorized electromagnetic radiation in 1865, and Heinrich Hertz proved his theory and discovered radio waves in 1887.
“Maestro Maxwell was right.We just have these mysterious
electromagnetic wavesthat we cannot see with the naked eye;
but they are there.”
However both of them saw no application for radio.
Marconi had a vision for radio.
In December 1901 he performed the first wireless transatlantic transmission from Poldhu, Cornwall to St. John's, Newfoundland. With this experiment he jumpstarted a new global dimension for communication in the twentieth century, that eventually made radio one of the major forms of communication.
Perhaps we can see this as the early beginnings of our globalized world.
Until today it is not certain if that experiment actually was successful and it also introduced a continuing problem - distinguishing between code and noise by atmospheric disturbances/natural radio waves.
When the telephone came about in 1876 Thomas Watson the assistant of Alexander Graham Bell was the first person to listen to sounds other than voices. After work he was listening to the telephone lines, and noticed sounds like chirping birds, crackles and whistlers. Since most telegraphers were closed at the end of the business day, these sounds couldn’t have been interference from other lines. What he was listening to was Natural Radio, cosmological noise, ionspheric noise, and electromagnetic noise. - transmission without a sender.
That put into question not simply who is properly sending and receiving signals, but the very idea that there must be someone that must be sending signals.
now we skip ahead for around a 100 years ->
Sputnik 1 launched on October 4, 1957 signal heard before detected, alarm, paranoia triggered the space race
Since then 1000 satellites were launched into Earth orbit. About 5000 of these satellites are still orbiting earth and approximately 2000 are still functioning.
Signal hunting is a carefully planned activity that I engage to track and capture the transmissions of satellites.
This action involves being outdoors and demands to tune into the circadian rhythms of the satellites
The locations in which satellites can be received require certain conditions as the signals are often very weak.
Interference from cell towers or other radio signals like WIFI networks can easily render the reception impossible.
Therefore it is necessary to seek places that are outside of the city center and ideally remote from urban infrastructure.
Weather satellites – NOAA-18 137mhz
These weather satellites are in a Low Earth Orbit 850 km from the earth and send analog image data continuously back to Earth. The data is used for weather and climate predictions as well as to create global images of clouds.
I discovered a list of military communication satellites
situated along the equator in a geostationary orbit
Since these are first-generation satellites – some of them were launched in the late 70’s - the communication channel is open, - not encrypted
Because of that a small community of radio amateurs also referred to as satellite radio pirates were able to hijack these satellites and use them as their own private communication network
some of them are Russian but many of them are Brazilian truck drivers as they are going through the Amazon they often don’t have reception on their phones, so they use these satellites to communicate with their friends and family.
But also drug cartels send encrypted messages over the satellite.
The military tries to stop them, there have been raids and their equipment has been confiscated many times but that doesn't seem to stop them.
I image their spaces – sometimes it sounds like they are in a garage or workshop other times I imagine them sitting on a field between a herd of cows.
I hear the distance the signals have traveled through the ionosphere bouncing of the satellites
Tracking satellite radio pirates raised the question if there were other abandoned or hijacked satellites in orbit.
I found satellites, also called Ghost satellites, these are space debris, malfunctioning objects floating in space that are not used anymore.
Some of them still continuously communicate to earth even though nobody is listening to them anymore nor understands their data. They have outlived their designated function and their research programs have been shut down for decades.
was launched on February 11th, 1965 by the MIT to conduct experiments in satellite communication but failed to reach its intended orbit due to miswiring of the circuitry.
It started spinning and the MIT was not able to use it so the program was shut down.
In 2012 - 47 years after its launch, it suddenly started transmitting again
Aliens hijacked Earth's satellite to coordinate their spaceships. once the repeating signal ends they will start the attack on earth.
Others have the theory that the battery corroded and created a direct connection between
Many questions about these mysterious objects and their signals are impossible to answer since we will never be able to observe a satellite in its full detail.
Despite that, all unknowns only feed the imagination.
As a result of the satellite’s peculiar motion the signal slowly fades in and out.
an eerie signal from an early artifact of space exploration and communication that whispers from the ionosphere tumbling through space, slowly rising from the noise after nearly a half-a-century.
TRANSIT 5B-5 136.650
The Transit 5B-5 was launched on December 31 in 1964 as part of the Navy Navigation Satellite System and is one of the oldest satellites in earth orbit.
The network of 27 satellites is the predecessor of GPS and the Navy used it for locating their ships and submarines.
Only 19 days after it was launched, the Navy lost control over the satellite.
The navigation transmitter shut down for unknown reasons and the satellite stopped responding to command signals.
But the transmitter continued functioning and has been broadcasting telemetry data back to earth ever since.
It took me six months of persistent tracking to finally capture it
throughout winter daylight got continuously shorter and the solar panels of Transit 5B-5 could not generate enough electricity to power the satellite
The satellite only starts transmitting in direct sunlight, if the solar panels generate enough electricity, presumably its batteries are not functioning anymore after so many years.
The satellite is known as the singing satellite.
VLF - Very Low Frequency - 3 kHz - 30kHz (Military, Submarine, Time Signals)
LF - Low Frequency - 30 kHz - 300 kHz (AM Longwave, Amateur Radio)
MF - Medium Frequency - 300 kHz - 3 MHz (AM Longwave, Amateur Radio)
HF - High Frequency - 3 MHz - 30 MHz (Over-the-horizon radar, Shortwave radio, Marine)
VHF - Very High Frequency - 30 MHz - 300 MHz (FM, Aircraft communications, Weather Satellites)
UHF - Ultra High Frequency - 300 MHz - 3 GHz (WLAN, 3G, 4G, GPS)
SHF - Super High Frequency - 3 GHz - 30 GHz (5G, Radio astronomy, 5 GHz WLAN, Radar, communications satellites)
Yagi for Satellite communication
A short 'simple' basic antenna design intro:) document -->
λ = c / f
L= (300 / f) / 2
Final works / Grand Finale
As a conclusion of the elective you can choose one of the following directions:
1. Work on developing and experimental antenna/instrument/installation/emf sniffer that can focus either on receiving radio signals(satellites or not) or the unfiltered emf noise from the EMF realm around. That means you can work on developing this object/wearable/tool that will then be the final work, demonstrated live and/or in a video documentation.
2. Focus on the sounds from the devices already available, work on exploring/recording/collecting sounds (or both sound and video) and then create an audio-visual work or audio composition. That can be in any direction you want to take or you work in, narrative...all the way to...totally abstract.
3. If you think you want/have time you can do both! that would be super amazing.
Remember, the process and discovery is very important so keep track on this, it can prove to be valuable to your practice at unexpected moments. The presentation of the exploration and final outcomes will be on Monday 13 June at wdka and / or a specific location if that is necessary for your work.
You can decide to work in a team/group or do things individually.