The Electromagnetic Fountain

Scrying [boards]

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Martin House has launched a project called “Scrying” – a highly mobile, extremely low power radio/network computational platform for artists.

This description comes from the Scying site:

Scrying can variously be defined as a technique of divination or revelation, of producing visions, perhaps of the future, through prolonged gaze at an object, usually of crystal or liquid nature. Scrying was famously practised by the 16th century astronomer, mathematician and alchemist John Dee with the assistance of presumed imposter Edward Kelley. Their well documented story is inscribed within a fiction or history of modern science with which this project is concerned, again with a focus on the questionable nature of revelation.

The primary function of the scrying boards is to divine a hidden city, an alternate electromagnetic architecture with lines of transmission, but rather of resonances undone from the intentionality implied by the political terms of receiver and transmitter. The scrying boards reveal a ghost city and are implicated in a dissection of the doublings and ghostings (poltergeists, actions at a distance) within so-called modern electronics and physics (science) with which previous work with the crash and xxxxx events has been occupied. At the same time the idea of revelation is very much a concern, building on work with the idea of the CPU (Central Processing Unit) as a black box, as a hidden code interiority within the existent/world. The notion of the CPU is concerned with the black-boxing of technology and a notion of a hidden interior, technology as an interiority. Scrying boards are presented as open hardware, and equally are occupied in a mapping of such interiority into the world as a philosophical question concerned with rationalism.

The scrying boards will equally be used to divine and contain hidden data sources, functioning as low power data repositories within the spaces of the city. Scryers wandering the city will interface by way of their modular scrying kit with such pools of data which can later be made manifest by software. The boards act as detectors, in the manner of early radio ghost detection, and containers for future divinations. Thus one further functional model is presented by alternative systems of message distribution such as the W.A.S.T.E. system elaborated within Thomas Pynchon’s novel, The Crying Of Lot 49.

The scrying boards are designed with free software principles in mind, and bear a strong relation to open hardware as concept and as practice. The scrying project is concerned with a relation to technology which is exposed by the development of open hardware and open software; attempting to pose through practice a new relationship and ecology. At the same time the boards implement and project a modular, reusable architecture for mobile, artistic computing which could be of great use for future artists interrogating technology. All plans, designs are thus to be made freely available for re-working and customisation. Scrying kits will be provided by the artist at cost price.

For more about the Scring project, see


Written by ajsteggell

July 8, 2007 at 2:47 pm

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