The Electromagnetic Fountain

Archive for June 2008

Sniffing in Stavanger – Little EMV sniffer

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This EMV sniffer was put together by Erich Berger and Martin Howse during the Maxwell City Workshop I took part in at Atelier Nord in 2007. It is based on kit components that can be purchased here.

Sniffing in Stavanger – Zap Checker

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Here’s a video of the Zap Checker detector in action where the Electromagnetic Fountain is planned to stand.

Frequency range: covers 1 MHz to 8 GHz.
Output: Audio Jack and needle display.
Antenna: Internal
Calibration: Can be calibrated for different signal ranges and for digital and analog signals.


Sniffing in Stavanger – Electrosmog Detector in the Rain!

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Here’s a video of the Electrosmog Detector in action in the rain. Its much more noisy.

Sniffing in Stavanger – Electrosmog Detector

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Here’s a video of the Electrosmog Detector in action during location scouting for the Electromagnetic Fountain in Stavanger.
Frequency range: 50 MHz to 3000 MHz
Conditions: very humid, sunny period between heavy rain.

EMF Location scouting in Stavanger

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I traveled to Stavanger in southern Norway for a couple of days to talk to the organizers of the Article 2008 exhibition where the Electromagnetic Fountain is scheduled to be shown from 15 – 30 November 2008.

Lunch meeting
L-R: Atle Barcley/ROM3 (curator/producer/co-ordinator of the EMF project and NLI partnership), Hege Tapio (i/o Lab), Daniela Arriado (i/o Lab).

Another reason for the trip was to do a rekkie to find a suitable location for the Electromagnetic Fountain to stand during the exhibition. It was not difficult to find hot spots of electromagnetic activity in the centre of the city – it has an open wireless network, and the Stavanger folks seem to be on their cell phones almost all the time.

Cell phone Electromagnetic Stavanger 05

The best place I found was in the square in front of the Stavanger 2008 building (Stavanger is the European Cultural City this year). The centre of the square is marked by a circular stone pattern and seems to be just waiting for a fountain to arrive.

Circle crossing 2 Circle crossing 1

Around it lies a church, an H&M store and a bank with a cash dispensing machine, as well as trees and benches, etc.

H&M - place to sit Cash point signals

There are 5 streets leading in to the square with a steady flow of people and loads of em signals.

Towards the sea Corner view 2

It seems like the right spot.

Though you can’t see from the photos, it was raining almost all the time, so thanks to the volunteers working in the Stavanger 2008 building who offered me help ; hot coffee, making calls to my cell phone, plastic bags for putting over my gear, and a dry T shirt!

Written by ajsteggell

June 21, 2008 at 4:55 pm

Electromagnetic Fountain – control system revised

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Following a discussion I had on the Lanbox email list I’ve modified the network/control set up for the Electromagnetic Fountain, cutting out one lanbox and adding a dmx relay box for the fountain valve control.


Product info for 8 output dmx relay box (I would need two of them) that can be set to solid state or  mechanical relay mode, manufactured by Milford Instruments Ltd can be found here:

Written by ajsteggell

June 21, 2008 at 2:40 pm

Electromagnetic Fountain design taking form

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Today I had a meeting with the EMF project team (led by Øystein Lia, with Svein Kjetil Haheim, Espen Jorgensen and Geir Erbo Rougthvedt) at NLI Engineering Industry as located at Klosterøya in Skien, Norway, where I proposed, and we discussed the following water jet design and scheme for controlling the fountain:


water jet design

Each dot is a valve.
The valves of each pentagon are mounted on a manifold.

Each pentagon has a dedicated pump.
Each valve is controlled by on/off signals.

As each valve can be controlled individually, it’s possible to program a multitude of dynamic jet patterns. (Triangles, spirals, random patterns, star forms, curvy lines, etc, etc …..)

The height of the water jet is in relation to the pump speed, and according to how many valves on each one of the pentagon manifolds are open – the more valves that are open, the lesser the height of the jet.

The red dot in the middle uses a 4th pump and does not need a valve. The height of the water jet is controlled by pump speed.



Lanbox LCX:


CLS 4002 Digital DMX dimmer:

Alesis iO|14 sound interface:

Mac Mini Intel Core Duo:


Max/msp/jitter 4.6:

Apple remote desktop:

The main task for the project team is currently to find out of the options I have suggested are compatible with the products that they find most appropriate for the job, and that the total design is achievable both practically and economically. What is most challenging for me is to get around the idea that the hardware will be produced before I have had a chance to test various components, but never-the-less achieve a result that I can manage to test in prototype form (mock-up situations), and to keep the programming in the realms of something I can work on myself – and hopefully with some help from friends!

More research is needed for both these aspects of the fountain.

Regarding lights the best solution seems to be to light up each of the water jets with a ring diode underwater light. Colour changing diodes would be good, but possibly too complex/expensive for this phase of the project. A simpler option could be to have white diodes on the pentagon jets, with a red ring lighting up the central, big jet. Another option could be to give each pentagon its own set of coloured diode rings, but my fear is that the fountain will become too “disco” with this option.

Fountain Music – plugin for itunes

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Exploring different options for lighting the Electromagnetic Fountain, I stumbled across a plug-in for the itunes visualizer called Fountain Music, made by Brian Moore, which he incidentally released on my birthday! It may seem a bit corny, but I have been watching it respond to my field recordings of electromagnetic activity, and it is really quite helpful to see various colour changes, rotation of light and dynamics in relation the sounds I’ve recorded. The classic mode works best for me! From this mediation I think I’ve come to the decision that the EMF should have only underwater led-lights.

BTW you can download the source code for the plug-in too.

A water jet example

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Here’s a video captured by Pepe of a fountain he saw in Aix-en-Provence whose water jets respond in a similar manner to the way I imagine the jets of the EMF responding to detetced EM signals:


Written by ajsteggell

June 11, 2008 at 9:19 pm

A patch and a model!

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I’ve just come back from 4 days alone at a beautiful cottage at Kjerringvik (Old Bitch Bay) on the coast of Southern Norway. Fantastic weather and very warm sea for the time of year. Apart from swimming I spent my time reading* and clearing up a max/msp control patch for the solenoid valves of the Electromagnetic Fountain. These valves should open and close when digital electromagnetic signals are detected. It’s not exactly rocket science on my part – based on a patch I made with Piotr Pachjel for the airbrush gun valves of the Emotion Organ project, with the “bucket object” (as suggested by Ellen Røed) – but I think it is a good start for work with my current plan of using a lanbox/junction box, etc.


(click for larger image)


An electrician had been working on the electrical wiring in the cottage just prior to my visit, and left behind a box of discarded cables and other bits and bobs. I used them to try and construct a small model of the fountain that showed its jets, bending and weaving copper wire with my fingers.

EMF model EMF model silhouette

Alchemic Fountain Design 3

So the red-tipped wires are meant to represent the detected peaks and troughs of digital signals, the white-tipped wires the amplitude of the detected analogue signals and the yellow-tipped wire, the total average of all detected signals. ( I am still trying to work out what I mean by “total average”).

The model is based on a suggestion at the meeting with NLI Engineering AS (see previous post); using 1 dry water pump located in the fountain base, as opposed to my idea of using several submersible pumps. The solenoid valves are also located in the base, each with its own pipe that extends into the watery bit, with a nozzle attached. Each nozzle lies just below the water surface. The “white” and “yellow” nozzles are also served by the same pump.

* Gravity’s Rainbow/T. Pynchon, Instruments and the Imagination/Hankins and Silverman, Infrastructure. The book of everything for the industrial landscape/B Haynes, and In the Desert of Desire. Las Vegas and the Culture of Spectacle/W.L Fox.

Written by ajsteggell

June 9, 2008 at 7:44 pm