Immaterials; wireless technology

  • Fresh Awards 2012 Gold Winner, Digital Breakthrough category

    Original Work available at

    Case study 
    Wireless technology has great significance within our society, as a vehicle for networking, yet it is immaterial; we are unaware of its shape and form and its effects on us. As John Cage (2010), poignantly suggests, “We are bathed in radio waves”.
    Since we cannot experience it directly through our senses, it is a subject, which is still being debated and developed in all its guises.

    This study explores these invisible electronic fields to help us understand its properties, characteristics and infrastructure as a visual language.

    This invisible terrain is brought to life using a variety of experimentation; from manipulation and human interaction, to painting this invisible landscape in various locations, from the countryside, to the city, using a light painting technique to measure wireless fidelity’s signal strength.

    Bathed in radio waves exhibition installation
    An interactive installation that expresses the concept of humans being “bathed in radio waves” John Cage (2010), using a dark room filled with LED lit rods indicating the wireless fidelity’s signal strength in the area.
    As you walk around in this digital sea of radio waves, the wireless fidelity’s signal strength alters around you. You begin to realise your own human body is being used to manipulate these signals.

    Your body reduces them when you are in between the wifi provider (in the centre of the room) and its detectors (scattered around the room).

    This human interaction allows one to question whether these invisible waves penetrate through us, and whether this advanced technology in modern society is more beneficial or detrimental to us.

    Light painting photography

    Case studyLong-exposure photography using a light painting technique originally by nearfield, to test whether immaterials are everyhwere, from the countryside to the forest, rather than just the city.


    Nearfield / Yourban 

    The ‘WiFi signal strength detector’ is originally by nearfield’s project yourban onimmaterials, in which Darren and I re-created again from scratch and developed further, to be used to push new boundaries. To view the original documentary by nearfield please click here.

    Darren Lewis

    Technical development