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current research and creative work:


ENVIRONMENT
ANTHROPOLOGY
CRYPTOGRAPHY
AURORA/MAKROLAB PROJECT
HISTORY
METEO
ROCKETRY
IMAGE PROCESSING AND ANALYSIS
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SIGINT AND ANALYSIS

 

 

 

 

AURORA UNIVERSALIS: PROJECT BACKGROUND

Known as Borealis in the North, Australis in the South, the auroras, present brilliant geo-specific spectacles of natural electromagnetic disturbances. They have for millennia been regarded as having mythical, spiritual and cosmological powers. Today the aurora may be read as a reflection of our media based culture and globalisation of society by calling into question the contemporary meanings of communication, mobility and isolation.

The Aurora Universalis Project intends to engage communications technology in a dialogue between this naturally occurring phenomena and our collective attempt at "freedom" by overcoming space, time and geophysical constraints.

aurora borealis over quebec city on 12.07.02

 

How do such naturally occurring signals and emissions correlate to our own attempts at spatial electronic manipulation, transmissions and power over our communicative environment? Are the structures of global communication and electronic communities becoming real urban zones within which the desire at connectivity becomes the meaning of freedom and self-determination? As a means of addressing these issues in the context of an artistic-scientific collaboration the Aurora Universalis Project is engaged in an interdisciplinary investigation of the perception and visualization of space, connectivity, cultural perceptions and system networks.

The current phase of project research in England and Scotland, investigates and critiques the implicit character of "global interactive telecommunication" by examining correlations between visual phenomena inherently connected to natural processes and constructed media technology. In order to initiate this work a series of live web-dialogues with media practitioners from around the world will be held to discuss the structures of communication which enable, hinder, tempt or discourage us from engaging in borderless mobility and global communications structures. In addition network communication, telematics and visualizationissues will be explored through meetings with potential collaborators.

MAKROLAB RESIDENCY JULY 2002

makrolab view S @ 0335 (UTC+1) on 12.07.02

 

The MAKROLAB mobile media arts and telecommunications module - a project conceived by Slovene media artist Marko Peljhan - forms the context for this brief series of preliminary investigations into aurora inspired telecommunications phenomenon. Situated within the Scottish highland heath ca. 10 kms NE of Blair Atholl, Perthshire, the lab provides an ideal opportunity for immersing the project into an isolated interface between nature and telecommunications culture. Fully energy and systems self-sufficient the lab tests the limits of media autonomy - the fragility of human-based technological structures within the omnipresent influence of constantly evolving atmospheric and environmental conditions - thus providing the setting for an examination of global media structures and the culture of media mobility.

NIGHT SKY

The investigations take place under the night sky. At this position, during this time of year (July) the period between the twilight hours stretches from ca. 2200 to 0500 local time (UTC+1). The sky does not become completely dark, or black. Between ca. 0115 and 0230 the sky is at its darkest. Cloud cover is variable, but generally heavy, so the greater the cover, the darker the spatial environment. Under these conditions and at this location auroras are generally imperceptible. Being a light emitting phenomenon requires that there be a strong contrast between the dark night sky and the auroras. Thus at this location, the night sky acts simply as a silent container for global media communications. Stars are faint, the brightest points are created by the moon, large planets and the regular pass of satellites.

tent view N @ 0335 (UTC+1) on 12.07.02

 

AURORAS_the structure of light

Auroras are caused by electrons in the upper atmosphere - the ionosphere - releasing energy in the form of light. This peculiar light phenomenon is the result of electrons and protons being supercharged by the continually "blowing" solar wind. Upon impact these sub-atomic particles are sent soaring along the earthıs magnetic field from their habitual territory in the magnetosphere (5-10 thousand kilometres above the earth), down into the ionosphere, (80-300 km). The resulting luminous bands are seen predominantly as green (nitrogen) or red (oxygen) sheets or "curtains" of intense colour in the deep night sky. Since these waves produced by the solar wind are at their extremes in relation to the earth's magnetic poles they are best viewed roughly along the Arctic and Antarctic Circles where they are a "whole sky² phenomenon, creating a purely geo-specific spectacle.

sky view N @ 0215 (UTC+1) on 12.07.02

 

ROCKETS_eavesdropping silence

Miniature solid fuel rockets are launched from the Makrolab site into the moment of maximum darkness. Streaming a faint path of chemical iridescence they troll the night for glimmers of signal amplitude. Minute instances of aurora like ribbons fade into the twilight. Experiments are conducted in Alaska using barium charged devices launched deep into the ionosphere during magnetic storms - which occur during periods of intense plasma blasts against the earth's magnetic shielding. The incoming solar plasma knocks the spewing Barium ions, inducing artificial auroras of lilac, testing the electromagnetic charge of earth's upper atmosphere. Our rockets delineate the lower spectrum of visible light.

successful launch - sky view W @ 0015 (UTC+1) on 14.07.02

 

MOBILE_the immateriality of communications culture

powering communications cacophany - sky view E @ 0315 (UTC+1) on 14.07.02

 

As visual electromagnetic disturbances the auroras (northern or southern lights) are ephemeral, fluctuating, geographically determined, and as such, also difficult to capture. Images of them only allude to a brief moment of their visual and atmospheric presence. They are fleeting ... and as a product of disturbance, they are a visualization of virtual immateriality. Their physical omnipresence creates metaphors of media mobility, communications culture and notions of the realm of isolation within a medialised and networked world. The fragility and technical difficulties of our networked environment are prey to the stability of our electromagnetic environment. Inducing communication through the vehicle of online web chats a global forum is created with the goal to discuss these issues from the perspective of networked individuals. Whether knowingly or subliminally the participants are faced with concepts of mobility, habitation, communication, and transience. Participants logging in from various geographic locales enter into an array of communications abstracts ­ interactions with unknown partners, silent and present ... and which, once gone, only leave a trace of text or image as their communications and physical signature. Fleeting, like a global aurora of communications cacophony, the link-ups evoke structures of disturbances technology cannot control. Our 'earth based' media and telecommunications systems are, as opposed to the aurora, based on stability and clarity of signal. Disturbance in the network ­ as opposed to the emergence of an aurora will eradicate the paths and results of communication.

>join aurora_universalis nightly on ivisit @ 2200 UTC ...

   








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