Mapping the Cloud in 'Immaterials: Light Painting WiFi'

Eerie long-exposure photographs reveal the invisible wifi networks that permeate our urban environments, making the cloud available everywhere

Tech 2020

In this video, eerie long-exposure photographs reveal the invisible wifi networks that permeate our urban environments, making the cloud available everywhere. It's easy to take constant access to the web for granted, so it's a little unsettling to see the network we are submerged in every day "materialize." 

The project was created by Timo Arnall, Jørn Knutsen and Einar Sneve Martinussen, affiliated with YOUrban, a program at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, and design firm BERG. Martinussen outlines their exploration of the "networked city" in a post on the YOUrban site:

In order to study the spatial and material qualities of wireless networks, we built a WiFi measuring rod that visualises WiFi signal strength as a bar of lights. When moved through space the rod displays changes in the WiFi signal. Long-exposure photographs of the moving rod reveal cross sections of a network’s signal strength.

The measuring rod is inspired by the poles land surveyors use to map and describe the physical landscape. Similarly, our equipment allows us to reveal and represent topographies of wireless networks. The measuring rod uses a typical mobile WiFi antenna to measure reception, and draw out 4 metre tall graphs of light.

For more background on Immaterials, visit http://yourban.no/.

Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.

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