The Electromagnetic Fountain

Posts Tagged ‘urban installation

Electromagnetic Fountain @ Porsgrunn

leave a comment »

Research Days
Telemark University College, Porsgrunn, Norway
18 – 27  September 2009

The Electromagnetic Fountain will stand in Porsgrunn, Norway, for a period of nine days during the annual national research days.


Advertisements

EMF video documentation form Article 08

leave a comment »

Finally here is my video documentation from Article 08:

Automagic start up?

leave a comment »

So, I’ve been in Stavanger setting up the EMF for the Article 08 since Monday. It has been a constant, 20 hour/ day process of trial and error. Breifly ……

Luckily, before I arrived some hunky firemen filled the fountain bowl with water – necessary to stop it being carried away or tipped over.
Unluckily, the bowl was mucky when it arrived, and the water consequently very murky.

Dirty water

(Photo: Geir Tore Aamadal)

Luckily, I managed to clean the bowl today by taking out just enough water to keep the pumps running, using a cloth to remove the gunge, and filling the bowl up again with 56 buckets of water.

Luckily, the fountain appeared to survive its journey, with pumps and lights all working fine.
Unluckily, and as in Porsgrunn, the dmx relay box has been cutting out. The fountain runs for anything up to 9 hrs and then the relay box ceases to function.

Light splash

(Photo: Geir Tore Aamadal)

Luckily, the weather was okay for the first 2 days, and I had two very helpful assistants, Geir Tore and Evy, who even washed my dirty clothes for me.
Unluckily, the weather changed and it has been raining and windy – making it difficult to work outside.

Evy and me

(Photo: Geir Tore Aamadal, Evy on the left)

Unluckily, the computer is damaged and does not like starting up at all.
Luckily I buy a new one on down payment, which makes problem solving a lot easier.
Unluckily it contributes to breaking the budget.

Luckily Pepe is on hand to send me my Griffin usb sound interface (from Oslo) in an attempt to get a better sound input from the EM sniffer.
Unluckily the fountain does not respond favourably to it, so I go back to minijack/line sound input.

Luckily I manage to make contact with John of Milford Electronics (who sold me the relay box) who suggests various issues connected to my problem.
Luckily the problem seems to be resolved with a new power adapter.

Luckily, now everything seems to be working, Trond Lossius is on hand via Skype from Bergen to help me by making an “automagic” (is this a spelling mistake, or his humour?) start-up max/msp patch out of the one that is currently functioning.

13.17 hrs

Luckily, Geir Tore offers moral support, reading me Trond’s instructions, because I’m too tired to rely on my own brain operating sequentially.

Unluckily, once installed on the fountain’s mac, everything works except that the fountain’s water jet patterns do not change.

Luckily, Trond helps out, taking me through the various parts of the patch step by step to resolve the problem. Some of the max externals have not been copied over to the new mac, and I’m missing some column data that is vital for changing the aqua-ography.

Skype 15.33 hrs Skype 20.52 hrs

I am waiting for daylight to test the revised patch on the fountain. This is partly because of the wind and rain, and partly because I really need to see if the fountain keeps running (particularly the valves) for a longer period of time if I am going to leave it for 10 days on Monday.

Tomorrow it is Friday, which leaves one day left to get the EMF stable for the opening of the exhibition.

Houston, we have one less problem

leave a comment »

It was a very busy day today.

It started with nothing much going on, so I fiddled around, adjusting this and that. Then Frank Ralle came and fixed the pump tubes. He also reminded me of something that he previously told me that I should do – get rid of the air in the pumps each time the water is drained out of the fountain bowl. Silly me. By 14.40 the central jet sprang out of the bowl reaching a height that must exceed 4m. Fab!

At 15.00 most of the NLI Engineering AS team turned up, as well as a journalist from the Weekly Technical Magazine (Teknisk Uke Blad) to interview us all and take photos. It was a pity that the relay box and the last 2 rgb lights hadn’t arrived, but at least one jet was behaving very nicely. The seance lasted about 2 hours, so I hope he’ll write some good stuff.

During the evening the fountain took part in an open day at Klosterøya – a good opportunity to get some feedback, even though the fountain isn’t finished yet. Several of the people who work at Bautas turned up which made me very happy. Below is the only half-decent photo I have of the fountain in operation. It doesn’t really give a good impression of the water jet, and shows the need for 2 more lights to capture the height of the jet at night.

Water!

Lastly, here’s a screenshot of the max patch for the EMF that was made with the help of Trond Lossius at BEK last week. (Some of the sub-patches can be found on my Flickr site. Click the image below to get there).

Prototype_2

Written by ajsteggell

October 21, 2008 at 9:52 pm

EMF update – ROOM 313

leave a comment »

Room 313

I am sitting in room 313 at Thon Høyes Hotel in Skien, Norway, waiting for all the other guests to go out and have fun on Friday night so the wireless net connection goes faster and I can update my blog. I’m a bit lonely, but it is a very friendly hotel down by the water. My room is moderately sized and quite cozy really, with just enough space for me and all my clothes and equipment that I have been carrying with me from place to place for the past 9 weeks. There’s a telly, a desk, a single bed and a couple of chairs and a spacious bathroom. I have my espresso machine with me so I can make good coffee when I want to.

Breakfast and dinner

Each morning I eat breakfast in the restaurant, and make a packed lunch of fruit, sandwiches and yogurt before setting off to the old warehouse down the road at Klosterøya provided kindly by Bautas Equipment Rentals to work on the EM fountain. The warehouse is huge, cold and inhabited by several pigeons, but I like it, and the staff at Bautas are extremely friendly and supportive.

Each evening I eat the dinner of the day accompanied by one glass of wine (house red or white, according to the dish on offer) before coming up to my room to plan the next day, and then falling to sleep in a heap. Each day brings with it a new and unexpected hurdle to overcome.

Programming (max/msp) with Trond at BEK

Having been here almost a week to work on the fountain construction at Frank Ralles workshop, I took the train to Bergen to work on the programming of the fountain with Trond Lossius at BEK (Bergen Centre for Electronic Art), who, having invited me to give two presentations of my project earlier, offered to work with me for three days on the matter. One of the main issues was to devise a way to get meaningful data out of location-sensitive, unpredictable sound data that flows from the detectors designed by Martin – and then find a meaningful way to map the results of the data onto the fountain’s mechanisms. We encountered a series of technical malfunctions in relation to the detectors, the origins of which are too complicated to go into here, with many unknown variables/causes. Anyway, I will cut through them and move on to what we ended up doing, but before doing so I would like to mention one thing. Working with the detectors and the analysis of the signals revealed, amongst other things, how bodies moving through electromagnetic fields alter the fields themselves. This is a fascinating (re)discovery that could be picked up on later. Water jets could, for example, follow people around as they moved through the fields picked up by the detectors. There are a lot of potentials to address in the future.

We worked on the most reliable detector, and the one that eventually gave the strongest signals – the VLF sniffer with 2m coil antenna. This one picks up and delivers strong signals of EM fields in its very close proximity and gives delicious sounds. We put a mobile phone directly over the antenna nose to create a continuous input signal. Plugging the audio output from the sniffer into the audio interface (amplifying it) and the mac mini, we analyzed the brightness, loudness and noisiness of the sound signal in various ways, visualizing it and looking/listening for significant changes in the signal. As a new change occurs, the fountain valves adapt a new pattern/sequence. Each sequence resembles a “classic” fountain choreography, but because the rhythm is dependent on the quirky rhythm of the network signals it is all a bit off beat. This is of course all theoretical right now. The fountain is not here physically, and we can only watch what is happening on the screen, but it looks and feels very promising.

Each jet pattern circulates either clockwise or anticlockwise. When the mobile phone receives a call, or a signal from elsewhere produces a dramatic change, then all valve jets of the fountain are programmed to “flash” open and closed. Applying an autoscaler to the data became very interesting in relation to this behavior. As it takes time for max/msp to re-calibrate the signal from memory/buffer it is as if the fountain must recover from a trauma, or an exertion, before moving back to its pulsating mode.The mobile phone also acts as sensor/antenna for other data flows – though it is difficult to say exactly what they are and where they come from. So, in the light of the time scale and demands of getting the EM fountain ready for public exposure, this solution (a mob mounted directly on the antenna nose) has become the basis for the second EMF prototype.

This solution focuses mainly on direct human interaction, but has some environmental influences too. When leaving BEK I had an ambition to utilize at least one other of Martin’s sniffers to get more of the environmental influence in the picture, but after today’s discoveries I am not so confident about this ….

Yesterday – back in Skien

Returning from Bergen on the night train on Wednesday evening, I dumped my stuff at the hotel, was picked up by Atle Barcley (ROM3/ producer) and driven to the warehouse to see the work that had been done during my absence. It looked great but the chamber that holds the electronic gear had been sealed with a bolted panel, rather than a locked door. Having noted this we rushed around finding a table, chair, as well as a drill and bit/chimney with which to open the chamber.

Bautas Warehouse Work station

I hooked up my mac to the fountain to assign DMX channels, etc, to the electrical components – valves, lights, pumps – with some success (pumps and central light were connected, great! Only the solenoid valves and 5 jet lights to go. By that time I was cold and tired, but optimistic enough to phone Marius the Electrician to tell him of the success.

Today ……

Today I have sworn like the devil, and cursed every living creature on earth – and then, after a while, repented.

Next morning (today) I meet Marius. We correct the dmx addresses on the rgb light controller for the jet lamps and the solenoid valve switch box. All is working fine, it seems. Excitedly, we start to fill the fountain bowl with water (it has taken a long time to get to this stage) ……

Filling the bowl

….. and with horror find that two streams of water are flowing out of the hexagon hole in the centre of the fountain base over the floor. After a short period of disbelief and panic, we cut off the electric power and investigate further. There are two open holes that should have been closed in the centre of the bowl. They are for the cables that will run from the 2 rgb lamps that have not yet been delivered, to their power supplies in the electronics chamber of the base. PHEW. However, we also discover that there is water leaking from the tubes connected to the water pump system. DAMNATION.

Leaky pump

Marius fixes the plumping. He fills the empty holes with cables.

Fixing holes 2 Fixing holes

We fill the bowl with water and try out the pumps. Instead of a 4 m jet flowing out from the central pump, a pathetic 4 cm dribble appears. HELVETES FAEN! (very naughty Norwegian swearing). And even though the switch box is working in accordance with the software signals, the valves do not open or close, neither does the water pump that supplies them seem to be responding. SATANS HELVETES FAEN! (okay, so this means “the devil’s hell devil” – an overkill I agree, but I was very disappointed, and there aren’t that many Norwegian swear words to choose from if you don’t want to get sexist).

After much investigation and telephone calls, Marius the Electrician-and-Plumber-and co-problem solver and I conclude that:

1. The pumps are too weak.

2. The tubes supplying them are to wide and long.

3. The solenoid valves welded into the fountain are not the ones that should have been ordered, requiring 250v instead of 12v power.

(More swearing in English this time, but I’m too ashamed to repeat it.)

I call Atle who arrives as soon as he can.

Inspection

I am mad at almost everybody, including myself. I calm down and apologize – admitting that everyone on this project is entering new ground and stretching themselves in one way or another. It is a case of learning by doing – and doing it together, over coming differences, ambitions and expectations. Looking at the world today that must be a good thing.

Looking at the problem from different angles, we put the water supply tube directly into the central hole (that feeds water to both the cnetral pump and the pump for the 5 valves) in the middle of the fountain bowl, turn on the water and activate the dmx signal that controls the power supply to the pump. The water jet jumps straight up, high into the air. Lovely! So a 3rd pump that sucks water down to the 2 other pumps would solve the pressure problem.

We make a plan to resolve the problems on Monday.

The rest is to follow ……

Forever Till the End

EPILOGUE

Last night Søren Jessen, a good friend to my sons, died as a result of cancer and the effects of kemo therapy. I can hear his very distinctive Danish accent clearly, and recount the colourful stories my sons came home with when visiting him in the countryside in the summer holidays. It is very humbling news.

Written by ajsteggell

October 17, 2008 at 11:09 pm

Sniffer sounds from Martin Howse

leave a comment »

Martin Howse has been working in Berlin on the sniffers for the Electromagnetic Fountain.

He has sent me nine audio samples from 4 different detectors where he mainly focused on placing a mobile phone close to different antenna/detector pairs while making incoming and outcoming calls.

You’ll find links to the sounds below as well as location details and notes that he enclosed with the sounds.

**location
Backyard (hinterhof) studio in berlin, Mitte – plenty of 50 Hz power
lines, laptop in 30 m2 room and wireless router at other end of
room. Around 20 wireless networks close by in the yard. Also worth
noting is that the studio is very close to the huge Alexanderplatz TV
and radio transmitter (Fernsehturm).

**samples

**8307printedantenna.mp3

This is using a detector based on the AD8307 chip which is looking at a
low/mid range of frequencies (DC to approx 500 MHz). I’m using it here
with the largest printed antenna which is kind of A4 sized (all the
printed antennas are the green ones for which I sent you the link
before) and is for 400 to 1000 MHz. As in most of the recordings the
mobile phone (standard Nokia on o2.de network – see below) is moved
around 1 to 3m from the detector. In this case the signal is not
amplified much (all recorded to minidisk and then transferred to
laptop).

**8307wireantenna.mp3

As above but with a bare wire antenna of maybe 1m length.

**8313_basic.mp3

Using a detector based on the AD8313 chip which demodulates (roughly) in
wide band, high frequency range of 100 Mhz to 3.5 GHz. This is used with
a medium-sized printed antenna for 900 Mhz to 3 GHz. This one needs a
bit of amplification but the phone signal is very strong and clear even
4m away from the device.

**8313_outsidetoin.mp3

As above but coming from 10m outside street door into studio with phone
ringing and then talking on the phone.

**8318mobile.mp3

Using a detector based on the AD8318 which demodulates (again in rough
terms) a very high range of frequencies from 1 MHz to 8 GHz. Used with
smallest printed antenna (maybe 6 cm long) for 2-11 GHz. Amplification
is needed and the phone is quite close (maybe 1/2 to 1m) to get a
signal.

**8318torrentandrouter.mp3

As above but with a laptop (external wireless card, bittorrent
downloading) providing this strong noisy signal up to 5m away. The
regular beating is from the wireless router which is then turned off
towards the end of the sample and turned on again. The other signals I
have no idea!

**ownsniff1_10mHcoil.mp3

This is my own designed sniffer (from the Maxwell workshop but altered
with filter removed for a stronger signal). Here it is used with a tiny
coil (enclosed in plastic) – the one for this recording is 10
microhenries (Mh). Little amplification and a good signal from 2 to 3
metres away

**ownsniff_2kmcoil.mp3

As above but using a wire coil around 1m diameter and made from 2 km
thin copper wire. Power lines 50 Hz overwhelms all signals. Phone is
maybe 2cm away to be heard.

**ownsniff_6x1mHcoil.mp3

As above but with a chain of six 1mH tiny coils arranged in a circle.

**conclusions

The “ownsniff” detector (with small coils) covers a good, general range
and the other three focus well on more defined parts of the spectrum,
with 8313 working well for GSM900/1800 network devices (mobile phones),
and the 8318 for wireless networked devices (2.4 GHz and UMTS/3G –
around 2 GHz (untested)). These detectors are particularly sensitive
even at around a two metre distance and with only one phone. It may be
necessary to avoid overloading the detectors.

**further notes

The standard Nokia phone (o2.de network) used is a dual band GSM900/1800
model (operating at both 900 MHz and 1800 MHz). These frequencies are
common throughout Europe. The high frequency signals are detected by the
devices and demodulated – what we here is the lower, now audible
frequencies (for GSM900 apparently 217 Hz) which pulse the higher
(carrier) frequency, and the overall envelope of the signal (a rough
analogy would be to standing outside a room with a cocktail party
happening inside – we can’t hear the individual voices or listen to the
conversations but we have an idea of how many people there are, when
they start and stop talking, and how loud they are).

More pictures of the fountain bowl

leave a comment »

Just got these pictures of the EMF fountain bowl from before it was dismantled from Tryvann TV transmission tower on the hills of Oslo.

EMF basin 2 EMF basin 1

Written by ajsteggell

August 11, 2008 at 11:17 am