The Electromagnetic Fountain

Electromagnetic Fountain

with one comment

This summer I’ve been prototyping the electromagnetic fountain idea, which has now changed its name back from the Screaming Fountain to simply the Electromagnetic Fountain.

Here’s the first description …….

Every city has its own invisible twin-city – an architecture in flux made up of electromagnetic waves emitted by its numerous electrical facilities, transmitters and receivers. The Electromagnetic Fountain is a small-scale, transportable fountain that responds to these waves to form an ever-changing aquatic choreography.

Fountains generally perform aesthetic functions. When they are placed in urban spaces the intention is often to bring an oasis – an experience of nature, into the city. Observing and listening to fountains can be a mesmerizing and contemplative experience, but the repetitive patterns can also seem arbitary and without meaning. The dancing water of the Electromagnetic Fountain is neither predictable nor random. It draws on data derived from the detection of electromagnetic activity in its immediate surroundings (wireless technology such as mobile phones and surveillance equipment, tram lines, traffic lights, antennas, etc) to control the dynamics of the rise and fall of its water jets. In other words, it is the electromagnetic nature of the city that is reflected in the fountain. Like the wind, it is invisible. Unlike the wind, it is not often perceived or reflected over. By gazing at the fountain, the ethereal body of the invisible twin-city is revealed in a poetic and enigmatic way.

However there is a flip side to the story. The electromagnetic spectrum is a highly fought over private, commercial and political territory, and the increasing use of wireless technology has given rise to concern over environmental and health issues. Perhaps the fountain can function as an unusual information display system; an electromagnetic barometer for those who encounter it.

The fountain will be constructed in a portable format that resembles a satellite dish; a circular bowl of approximately 2 m in diameter that rests on a pedestal of about 45 cm high. It is equipped with devices for detecting and digitizing man-made electromagnetic activity in the near vicinity. This data is used to control an electric water pump as well as six water valves so that the water jumps and drops to evoke the feeling of the incoming data. Underwater lights that also react to this data will be used to illuminate and colour the fountain. The fountain will be scented with the smell of ozone. All equipment will be stored and secured in the fountain’s pedestal, out of which will come one cable for connecting to a power supply, and a nozzle for filling and draining water.

Once the fountain is constructed, appropriate host-spaces will be found where it can appear for a limited period of time. Examples could be on a roundabout, in a city square, playground, school yard, shopping centre or gallery/museum. The aim is to find public spaces where diverse/interesting readings of electromagnetic activity are detected. That the fountain appears in any one space for a limited time only will bring a sense of performance to this project, and each space will produce unique results.


Written by ajsteggell

August 25, 2007 at 8:03 pm

One Response

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  1. wow great concept well done!

    Keith Galea

    September 8, 2011 at 9:40 pm

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