The Electromagnetic Fountain

Archive for the ‘02 Electromagnetism’ Category

Antenna Aesthetics: Reclaim your city

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A collection of pole and parabola antennas in Kreuzberg, Berlin, clustered around a building with the proclamation “reclaim your city” on the top of it.

Reclaim your city 01

Reclaim your city 03 Reclaim your city 02 Reclaim your city 04 Reclaim your city 06 Reclaim your city 05


Written by ajsteggell

March 29, 2009 at 9:25 pm

Its invisible!

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I spotted this tower from the courtyard of my friend Misha’s apartment building in Kreuzberg. She had not noticed its arrival.

It's invisible

Written by ajsteggell

March 11, 2009 at 1:14 pm

More antenna aesthetics

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Last Sunday I took a long walk on the hills above Bergen which were covered in snow, sparkling under the sun’s bright rays – a surprising occurrence for this time of the year. My mission was to take photos of a transmission tower that can clearly be seen the city below.

Not knowing exactly how to get to it, I asked about 15 Sunday promenaders, skiers and sledgers for directions. To my dismay, no-one seemed to have any recollection of such a tower, even when I was very close to it (though hidden by the hillside). Even more strange, when I actually arrived at it, it appeared that its location at Blåman was a popular destination for tour goers. Had they forgotten where they were going, or has the tower become so familiar, or arbitrary that it has become invisible?

P1050160 Tower with warning

Approaching the tower, I was expecting the warning sign to say “Danger, Electromagnetic Radiation” or something of the kind. I was wrong. It said “Danger. Falling ice.”

Drum machine Grid

It has a collection of parabola dishes with protective covers fixed to it, and looks like the Eiffel Tower  made into a weird drum machine. Looking up from the centre of the tower makes me feel giddy.


Moving around the periphery I at last spot the expected sign: “FM Radiation. Entrance forbidden.” But above it, a small yellow sign exclaiming “turn electricity off when replacing the bulbs on the mast lights”. Delightful! Even I would remember to do that.

P1050162 P1050166

Some 20 or so metres away a hut is kept company by several smaller “totem poles”, and in the distance I can see the more notorious transmission tower at Ulriken’s top.

P1050137 Twins

Walking homewards,  cables are visible that appear to run down the hillside, anchoring the tower to the city below. I wished to get a closer look at it, but time had run out, and my fingers all swollen with cold ….

transmissiontower_ulriken01 transmissiontower_ulriken02

A few days later I was presented with these majestic photos of Ulriken’s Tower, taken by Marcus Held, an exchange student at the Department of Fine Art here in Bergen. He was on the same walk as me on the same day, but on the other side of the mountain.

This tower looks much more like a ginormous syringe when viewed from the city than as it appears closer up.

Written by ajsteggell

February 12, 2009 at 8:24 pm

TELE2’s cheap sheep invasion …..

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The underground stations of central Oslo have been taken over by super-sized black sheep courtesy of TELE2.


TELE2’s previous advertising campaign declared that “we bring you small bills”, now they are bringing us big billboards. They are stuck over walls and pillars everywhere, and are totally invasive. Wherever you walk, stand or sit you are seen to be in relation to the the campaign visuals.

Cheap_03 Cheap_04 Cheap_05 Cheap_02

Written by ajsteggell

February 5, 2009 at 5:33 pm

Posted in 2 Environment

Deep North (rough notes, still editing)

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Climate change as paradigm shift

It’s Saturday afternoon. I’m in my studio in Oslo and I’m supposed to be doing some accounting. I have dropped in to the live stream from the auditorium at Transmediale in Berlin – a panel debate about climate change – and I become more occupied with what’s going on there than what I’m supposed to be doing here.

There is a woman speaking, her name is Alice Miceli.

Alice Miceli

I’m not exactly sure what she is talking about at this point,  but she is describing how to approach the invisibility visually. How to penetrate space in a specific way. To create images of the zones and spaces you that cannot see. She is talking about Chernobyl as a turning point, an accident in time. The melt down at Chernobyl happened local in space, global in time. Comparing it with 09.11, or other accidental scenarios where we see the consequences, we don’t see the victims right away. We won’t even see them all before we die.

Who is to blame?
Is it the director of the power station?
Who is responsible for balance?
It is a moral question.
If you don’t know who your enemy is, how can you begin to understand the situation.
Creating the vocabulary by the very means of the vocabulary, of the matter of radiation, to tell the story.

A question from the audience …..

– Are you actually using the local radiation, auto radiography?

Yes. A direct imprint with a special kind of film, working with the actual radiation of the zone to reproduce life sized images.

– What kind of images are you getting from the process? An image from a tree/house, what would it be like in the end?

We had no clue of what these images would look like. In the middle of the process the results are mimetic in relation to the source, but you can’t tell what the source is like.

– The matter – the intangible matter, what does it look like.

The combination has many aspects. You can see that in the pictures themselves

(Unfortunately, I can’t see the pictures on the stream)

More questions to the panel (Endre Kiss, Victor Nemchinov, Rob van Kranenburg, Alice Miceli)

– What do you mean by multitudes?

(Dr Victor Nemichov) We want to see the horror images, we can only see the broken windows, the dead trees – how to visualize that in a non binary way? I would go to Chernobyl and take pictures of the cemeteries of the men who died, whose children never lived ………….

(Professor Endre Kiss on multitudes ….) Multitudes want to indulge rather than conform. It is our option as to whether we constrain ourselves or not. On a global level it means compassion, communications and trying to come to grips with the dangers around us. The idea is too young to use practically (or something along those lines …. )

(Kiss has earlier described 3 scenarios for the future:

I. apocalyptic scenario
2. politics, arctic commission, immigration (environmental)- by functional/rationalist means.
3. optimistic scenario – to replay the 20th century (lit. of 1910-12 discovery of north pole). The earth is already discovered, but through this scenario, we can gain our north pole – discover it again.)

(Someone from the panel comments) Multitude is a creative thing – an eagle eyed view, seeing such long territory. To think that an idea or a word that is not ready to be used is quite a difficult concept. To try to get this long view back in the network  – where twitter is an example of the opposite, I’m doing this that, this, that etc, and a compulsive disorder in which young people are living in now.

(Endre Kiss) Yes. It creates stereotypical identities, a non holistic version of yourself, small chips are components that collide. Stereotypical components of one’s self. A stereo vision.

This Optimistic Mode, creativity, not the notions of “creative industries”, how can it work?

(Endre Kiss) To connect with historical events,  the discovery of the north pole, the idea that we have no missions, etc, to visit Russian literature – a middle European common place, to replay the 20th Century – a philosophical replay.

I don’t think it will be a reality, but the possibility is still there.

The session ends. i move to the salon.

IN THE SALON (workshop session)
Dominque Malaquais, Eléonore Hellio, Dicoco Boketshu and jaromil are discussing Critical Consumer Practice

Jaromil is talking about the use coltan in mobile phones, and reflecting about the implications of using these minerals, 25% of it which is mined in the Congo. This is a territorial issue that I haven’t really thought about in relation to my own project, being more concerned with bandwidth territories. Concerned with the matter of the immaterial I have forgotten it. I am glad that it is brought to attention. He is calling for actions to turn off mobile phones, computers, to stop supporting the death market – payment with arms, etc.

Some snippets from the dialogues …..

Sony claims that they are not using tantalum (chemical derived from coltan) – how can they know that they are not using these things? With a market is driven by death, there should be a world wide tax on coltan to disarm the people in the Congo. The drug market is only profitable if it is illegal. The same with coltan.

The rest goes too fast to transcribe …….

Now there is a performance by Mowoso, transmitted live from Kinshasa via Skype. Some people at Transmediale are complaining about the video transmission resolution. There is no 2 way communication with the Mowosos artists  – a typical remote performance problem. How to synchronize the clocks and keep all channels open – that is the question.

Miles away

far apart

Fathoms under

worlds apart

Hours beyond

seconds away

centuries yonder

miles under

time over

A part apart

And right now, a google search produces a message telling me that going to the search results may damage my computer …. is this a coincidence?

coincidence? 01

And then …….


End of transmission ……..

Written by ajsteggell

January 31, 2009 at 5:00 pm

EMF Art examples

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Just taken part in the annual ACM Multimedia Conference and Exhibition, where, amongst others, I met Geoffrey Shea who is part of the Mobile Experience Lab at the Ontario College of Art and Design. A part of this lab work investigates the use of EMF detectors in a project called Cicadas. Here’s the blurb from the project website:

“The social theory of swarming combined with the technique of electromagnetic frequency (EMF) detection. Users talking on cell phones at certain locations along our target development area (John Street, a short street in downtown Toronto which is home to our lab as well as many media, entertainment and culture institutions) trigger swarms of virtual cicadas: sound and light emitting devices installed in trees. This draws parallels between signal emission as a communication imperative in both the human and insect worlds. It also creates a situation of passive interaction whereby users play a role in the experience without necessarily deciding to do so.”



Read more HERE

The EMF sniffers for Cicada are designed by Peter Todd, who gives an account of his first investigation  (diagrams, circuit board, test results, etc) HERE.

In contrast, in Geoff’s video poem, 1.000 Glances, a solitary speaker captivated by the view of a rotating radar antenna, reflects over the hope and despair that lurks beneath the surface in the relationship between herself and the world. Her words and thoughts becoming scrambled with the electrostatic disturbance of each rotation of the antenna.

Written by ajsteggell

November 1, 2008 at 11:52 pm

Recommended! EM workshop.

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Data forensics [in the landscape].
Workshop call. 6/7/8 November. Oslo
A practical workshop with Martin Howse and Julian Oliver.
Thursday 6th November – Saturday 8th November 2008
Atelier Nord, Wergelandsveien 17, Oslo ( Kunstnernes Hus)

Participation fee is 500 NOK
Application deadline Friday 24th October
Send applications with brief statement of interest to
Further information:


With an emphasis on the active construction of hardware and software
apparatus, the Data forensics workshop will apply practical tools,
techniques and theory to analyse [un]intentional data emissions within
the city of Oslo.

The workshop extends a succession of practical and theoretical
investigations concerned with electromagnetic [EM] phenomena into the
world of data space. Spanning signal and noise, digits and decay, Data
Forensics explores the often unintuitive reality that digital data has
its own electromagnetic (physical) presence, a physicality that can be
read and perhaps even modulated through the carrier medium itself.

Data Forensics presents a window between the domain of the digital and
the physical; the digital both informs and reveals the physical and
vice versa. It is through this relationship that we can find a
fortuitous exchange of practices. We can – for example – borrow
techniques from real-world forensics to examine and attempt to make
sense of leaked data emissions. Alternatively, we can expose and
elaborate upon the notion of data sedimentation; taking an
archaeological approach to examining everyday digital activity.

Topics for active research and discussion within an artistic context
include but are not limited to:

making sense of landscape from a forensics perspective, photo and
audio reconnaissance, data sedimentation, data visualisation,
TEMPEST, cryptography, mapping of event intensity using GPS,
signals, noise and strategies for interpretation of the
intentionality of transmissions

Participants do not need to have practical or theoretical experience
within these multiple fields; a keen interest in this novel artistic
terrain is essential.

Participation is 500 NOK

Application deadline Friday 24th October

Send applications with brief statement of interest to

Further information:

Questions to:

Written by ajsteggell

October 24, 2008 at 8:55 am

Day 4 at Frank’s place

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Fantastic sunny day again. I arrived at the workshop to find the fountain on a fork lift truck, with Marius working on electric cables:

Fork lift truck Checking it out

The water jet nozzles and lights are now in place and almost wired up. Some deatials:

Detail 2 Detail 3

L: The top hole is for water control (it rains a lot in Stavanger where the EMF will be standing in November) so any water over this level runs out of the bowl. Simple, but effective.
R: The rgb light fixtures allow them to be adjusted by height, angle and rotation. Lovely!

Bottom view Detail

L: The bottom view of the fountain showing the water tubes running from the pumps/solenoid valve chamber, through the mid hexagon chamber and up through holes to the jet fixtures.
R: I haven’t noticed the parabola logo before.

Fork lifting Nozzles and lights

The fountain is moved back inside Frank’s workshop so that Marius can continue wiring.

Working outside Working outside

I set up a table in the sun to test the sniffers. Though I don’t manage to get through all combinations of detectors and antenna, I do manage the following:

VLF box with large coil antenna: no response!
VLF box with small sensitive coil antenna: lovely, rich sounds, from very deep tones, to textural rushes and wooshes and clear tones when close up to wireless devices.

8318 box – 2-11 GHZ with small board antenna:
clear pulsing signals, high tones
8318 box – 2-11 GHZ with large board antenna: clear signals, beats and pulses, lower tones

8318 box – 900 – 300mhz with small board antenna: very loud signals, melodious at times, lots of variation in sounds when the antenna is moved around
8318 box – 900 – 300mhz with medium board antenna: as above, but very raw and tough, heavy rockish and black metalish sounds. Fab sounds when a guy used a mobile phone about 6m away.

Question: How to protect the antennas from the elements and how to make them robust enough to stand outside, in public space for 2 weeks?

So, the wiring is not quite finished, and we’re still waiting for the relay box. Frank still needs to put the doors on the base chambers – and all this really has to be done before we can do a test.

From the sniffer tests I did today, I really have to insist on spending time to decide how to fix the antennas on the fountain. I really need to be able to adjust them, rather than them being fixed in a static position. I am going to push forward to try and get them installed in steel goose neck tubes (or an alternative), so that the public can move them too.

Had hoped to set the LAN box channels today, but it was just not possible. Tommorrow’s another day!

Written by ajsteggell

October 9, 2008 at 11:39 pm

Day 3 at Frank’s place

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The lovely weather has broken. It’s damp and dreary here in Skien today. What a pity.

Arrived at Frank’s workshop to find the mechanical installation of the EM Fountain almost complete. The base shown here is now the right way up.


Frank and Atle place the bowl on top of it.

Lifting the bowl Bowl in place

Atle and I go to shop for needed parts, while Frank and Marius continue to work. The sniffers have arrived from Martin in Berlin. Four very sweet and mystical silver boxes, all carefully labeled:

4 sniffers

The VLF (very low frequency) sniffer has two alternative coil antennas. One is shown here:

Coil antenna

The other 3 sniffers have 2 alternative board antennas:

Board antennas

I go back to my hotel (functions as office/studio) to check them out but find that the power adapters are not included in the package from Martin. The shops are closed, so I’ll have to wait till tomorrow to test them. (Wish I’d noticed this earlier.) One thing that is apparent is that it is going to be a real challenge to find out how, and where to mount these on the fountain, and how to protect them from the elements …….

The electrical installation should be complete (or as least as much as it can be before the dmx switch box arrives), so I hope to start testing everything with Marius tomorrow. Hopefully there’s time to get adapters for the sniffers too.

A Radiant day!

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The debate about acceptable levels of electromagnetic radiation continues in Norway ……

See the documentary En strålende dag (A radiant day)
Brennpunkt, NRK TV


NRK skremmer folk med mobil strålingsfare (NRK spreads fear of dangerous radiation from mobile phones)
Mobile Buisiness Magazine, 24 September 2008.

Written by ajsteggell

October 4, 2008 at 12:14 pm