The Electromagnetic Fountain

Posts Tagged ‘urban intervention

Electromagnetic Fountain @ Porsgrunn

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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.


More photos from Article 08

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EMF dawn_02 EMF_dawn_01

EMF dawn_03 EMF_watching

EMF_girls_02 EMF_girls_01

EMF_group EMF_curious

Sniffer sounds from Martin Howse

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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.

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).



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 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


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


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.


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


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


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!


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


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.


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


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 ( 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).

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

EMF – Alchemic design

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I’m trying to find a system for designing the Electromagnetic Fountain’s water jets.

Following a stream of consciousness in this order:

Alchemy, Pentagon, Da Vinci, Giordano Bruno, Ionized hazard warning, Non-ionized hazard warning .. and so on and so forth …

Alchemic Fountain DesignAlchemic Fountain Design 2

Purple dots: valves controlled by data derived from kinetic detector/antenna no. 1 that can be pulled out by the public from the fountain base: digital signals. (frequency and amplitude – frequency: each new signal gets sent around to the next point in the triangle; amplitude defines the height of the water jet).

Pink dots: as above, but the valves are controlled by data derived from kinetic detector/antenna no. 2

Green dots: pentagon manifold with nozzles and valve/pump controlled by detected analogue signals. (continuous: amplitude defines height).

Example of square manifold:

An alternative could be to have a manifold with five fan nozzles:

fan nozzle fan nozzle pattern

With some maths, the fall of the each fan nozzle could “draw” each side of the pentagon shape. However, with this alternative I think it would lose some dynamics with regards to the height of the water jet, which would be lessened using this method.

Another alternative could be a manifold with many smaller, jet/spray valves that form the pentagon shape.

Example of a spray ring manifold:

spray ring spray ring effect

Red dot: valve/water jet that shows the total average of digital and analogue signals. Maximum total signal value threshold: all valves operate on special program.

One idea I’m thinking of for the central water feature is a pirouette nozzle:

piouette nozzle pioruette effect

But compared to the example given above, the central nozzle would have to give a more substantial – less delicate water effect. Generally, I think the overall effect of the spinning pirouette nozzle would probably detract from the water patterns I’m trying to achieve with the fountain. perhaps a simpler solution, such as a geyser/ foam nozzle is better.

foam nozzle foam effect

At the end of th day, I think its really difficult to get any substantial impression without trying things out and talking to experts. After all, how many water features can you actually fit in to a bowl fountain with a 2m diameter?

Lastly, I am really keen on having a fogger element in the EMF when the detected signal level reaches a maximum threshold. Here’s an extract from an article that describes different fogger methods – and an anecdote about what happened when the method was first implemented in the Bellagio Fountain in Las Vegas:

Fog on demand
Another element used in fountains to set the mood is fog created either by atomizing water or adjusting temperature and humidity. To use the first method, WET Design sends water at 2,000 psi and 0.05 gpm through a 0.006-in. nozzle. The water hits a steel pin positioned precisely over the hole’s center and bursts into tiny water particles making mist or fog. “In small close-up displays, we might use 30 nozzles,” notes Freitas. “Bellagio has 5,000.”

The second method usually involves injecting cool nitrogen into a chamber filled with warm, supersaturated air. The water condenses into airborne water droplets, or fog. The nitrogen expands, pushing the fog out into the display. “It’s a drier, finer mist than the brute force method,” says Freitas. “It also doesn’t make floors slippery or leave a residue. This makes it well suited for indoor use. But it does have a consumable, the nitrogen.”

How long the fog lasts and what it does is up to Mother Nature. “Once we create it, it’s out of our hands,” says Freitas. “When we tested Bellagio’s fog system, for example, it created a great bank of fog that started moving toward the road. Before we knew it, fog had engulfed the Strip. Drivers were slamming on the brakes, tires were squealing, and we expected to see a hundred-car pile up. Luckily, there were no collisions and no one got hurt.” That’s one reason human operators at the Bellagio fountain can intervene in the computer programming that controls the foggers.
[ from: Making Water Dance, Machine Design, 01.08.2003 ]

Written by ajsteggell

May 19, 2008 at 12:33 am

Pimp my satellite dish!

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Yet another post for the antenna aesthetics category.

‘WijKunst’ (translated ‘District-art’) is a new project from Autobahn in Utrecht, Holland featuring pimped satellite dishes:-) Examples shown below are taken from

pimp disk

pimp my satellite dish

Written by ajsteggell

May 5, 2008 at 10:39 am

Sniffer Sounds

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From 11-12 March I’ll be leading a workshop for young people at the Amandus Film Festival in Lillehammer, Norway. Small groups, equipped with detectors and mini-dv cam-corders will explore electromagnetic Lillehammer, recording the sound of the invisible city directly on to tape as an alternative “concrete” sound for film. We’ll then look at the various recordings, discuss them a bit, and pick out interesting parts of the recordings. These will be shown on the last evening, together with the results of Ivar Smedstad‘s video group and will be loaded up to the Sniffer Sounds blog.

Written by ajsteggell

March 7, 2008 at 3:29 pm