The Network Ensemble has been installed as part of Contact Festival, and we’ll be performing on Sunday at 5:30pm.
I’m part of a group providing sound for Danny Augustine’s performance tonight at Ace Hotel. I’ll be playing this synth from a Dirty Electronics workshop by charging it with a 9v battery and controlling how it discharges, as well as a selection of noisy objects & piezos in this Jacobs tin.
More info/tickets: https://billetto.co.uk/local-transport-propaganda
Courtesy, the ISO
This is a quick test, for the larger, ongoing, ‘Network Ensemble’ project with Francesco Tacchini. The local wireless network ‘space’ is monitored and different sounds are assigned to aspects of wireless network communications. For this, I’ve broken the communications into packets and placed these in two categories: Broadcast/Direct and Network/Data.
These are communications sent to a specific destination. They could, for example, be data sent from an access point to a laptop containing a web page that has been requested, or an email. They are the first block on screen, and sound in the right audio channel only as a short blip.
This refers to communications that are sent out to the whole network, without a particular target. They allow devices to ‘know’ about other devices available for communication or connection. For example, ‘Beacon Frames’, which are sent by access points to advertise their availability to devices which may wish to connect. These are the second block on screen, in the left audio channel only, and a high pictched, reverberant, ‘ping’ type sound.
These packets are used by the network infrastructure, or by devices to understand the network. They could, for example, be ‘Authentication Requests’, whereby a device requests to connect to a secure network, or, again, the beacon frames that are used to advertise the structure of the network. These are the third block on screen, play in the left channel only and are a short, low pitched sound.
This is the data requested by, and sent to devices on the network, any application level information, such as web page data or emails could be contained within this. The rightmost block on screen represents these, and they cause bursts of white noise to sound, panning between the left and right channels.
This was done at home, somewhere without too much network saturation, so as aresult there’s quite a range of communication levels. At ‘rest’ the network is fairly rhythmic, and the rapid runs of sound that can be heard are caused by loading pages or causing other devices to connect to the network.
My friend Caroline Claisse has been running workshops alongside The First Human, a show at the Pumphouse Gallery in Battersea, encouraging visitors to respond to various prompts through writing and by making ‘cave drawings’ from wire. The project has lead to some beautiful ideas and a fantastic array of forms on the themes ‘First Inhabitants’, ‘Climate Change’, ‘Found Object’ and ‘In The River’.
We’ve put together an archive site to explore them at unknown-territories.com.
The intercept has a good analysis of GCHQ’s ‘Regin’ Malware, including a breakdown of its likely stealthy, modular installation process.
“The malware, which steals data from infected systems and disguises itself as legitimate Microsoft software, has also been identified on the same European Union computer systems that were targeted for surveillance by the National Security Agency.”
It’s a long term piece of software, and not just in its slow installation, the article reckons it was in development for over a decade and has been spread as widely as “Russia, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Ireland, Belgium, and Iran”.
Libelium’s ‘Meshlium Xtreme’ is a system for detecting mobile devices using their WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities, it can function even when the user is moving at speed:
“Due to the reduction of the time between scanning intervals, now vehicle traffic detection rate has increased from 50% to 80% even at a speed of 100 Km/h (62 miles/h).”
It can also, apparently, tell the difference between ‘residents’ and ‘visitants’ despite the “anonymous nature of this technique” with the MAC address unnasociated with “any specific user account or mobile phone number not even to any specific vehicle”, although it is, of course, associated with a specific device.
A key reaffirmation of the importance of privacy from the UN’s general assembly. Some choice sections that outline the issues around digital surveillance in particular.
“General, what you see on these screens up here is a fantasy, a computer enhanced hallucination. Those blips are not real missiles, they’re phantoms.”
I have been looking at identity and surveillance. Reading Foucault’s ‘The Subject and Power’ has brought up the sense of identity being “imposed” by power, the idea that power relations “tie (a person) to his own identity in a constraining way” and this links to the way that surveillance, especially digital surveillance, requires a persistent, singular identity in order to track and record an individual.
This leads in two directions. Firstly, towards the ‘Non-Places’ as described by Marc Augé where this surveillance is codified into the space – I finished reading Ground Control, which investigates this in the context of British cities. Secondly, towards the Apophenia, the ability to see patterns in meaningless data, that can be exploited in automated, digital surveillance tools.
[Image above, of the heavily fortified bridge into London’s Canary Wharf, a Non-Place of the highest order.]
With Francesco Tacchini, I succeeded in creating Rochelle Salt crystals which exhibit piezoelectric properties and, therefore, work as contact microphones. Currently, they’re small and therefore not particularly sensitive, but hopefully we can build on the recipe to make it more concentrated and produce larger, shapeable, ones.
Here are a few test audio recordings: https://soundcloud.com/ollyjsmith/sets/rochelle-salt-piezo-test
Early in the week I found some interesting circuit bend points on an old Yamaha PSS-6 and produced some interesting distorted squeals. In the process of putting it back together, though, I shorted it out and burnt out the chip responsible for the sound (at least that’s what it smelt like).
I Finished reading Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’ finding interesting propositions that hide its age and strange incongruities that make it very clear throughout. Its admonishment of a system that rewards those whose work merely takes advantage of others (similarities here to David Graeber’s thoughts on Bullshit Jobs) jarring with its attempts to justify slavery and patriarchal hierarchies.
Began reading ‘Ground Control: Fear and happiness in the twenty-first-century city’ by Anna Minton.
Started this term’s teaching with 2 sesisons at LCC, both were intended as introductory, contextual, sessions, with one covering computing history both generally and in art and design, and the other covering the World Wide Web’s development from academic publishing platform to the hydra-like entity we see today.