SYNTHETIC TIMES - Media Art China 2008


SYNTHETIC TIMES - Media Art China 2008
A Beijing Olympics Cultural Project
National Art Museum of China


A selection of international artists, both established and emerging, from twenty-nine countries will present to the Chinese audience a stunning battery of significant media installation works, ranging from telematic presence to bio-cultural hybrids; from sensible machines to generative systems; from robotic interventions to audio-video spectacles; from immersive environments to monumental structures. The works on view highlight the most cutting edge artistic imaginations since the dawn of the new millennium, proposing new sensibilities for cultural artifacts, reflecting and critiquing a technologically drenched contemporary society. Many of the works featured will be world premiers.


Artists: Haque, Usman; Sjolen, Bengt; Somlai-Fischer, Adam

Wifi Camera is a camera we have built to capture and form images from "wifi" waves rather than "light" waves. It reveals the invisible electromagnetic space generated by our wifi (wireless) networks that are increasingly found in coffee shops, offices and homes throughout cities of the world.

We take real time "photos" of wifi which show how our physical structures are illuminated by this particular electromagnetic phenomenon and we are even able to see the shadows that our bodies create within such "hertzian" spaces.

Radio waves at this wavelength behave similar to light in that it is reflected on almost everything, just like that when we see colors we see the light from a light source being reflected on an object into or eyes. And similar to light some materials are opaque and some materials are more or less transparent.

The actual camera is built from a directional antenna made of wasabe pea cans, which have the perfect diameter to act as a highly directional wave guide antenna for Wifi radio waves, which have a wavelength of 12.5 cm. This directional antenna is moved around by two motors to cover a view step by step, like a single pixel camera, from pixel to pixel. Our customized wifi router is registering the various network names and signal strengths at each given point, and stores this into log files. We load these log files into custom made visualizations software and look for patterns and information in this data.



Adam (Szabolcs) Somlai-Fischer (1976 Budapest) is interested in the cultural qualities of new technologies, and to explore these he creates installations and experiments that blend spaces, technologies and interactivity. A team worker, Adam collaborates with designers, artists and engineers, where motivations are shared to create projects from conglomerates of thinking cultures.

Examples include: Reconfigurable House and Reorient – spaces made of thousands of electronic toys, Aleph, an outdoor display built from kinetic mirrors, Wifi Camera – a DIY camera taking picture of the Wifi landscape, Ping Genius Loci – a field of outdoor analogue pixels, Brainmirror – a mixed reality experience presenting MRI through a mirror, Low Tech Sensors and Actuators workshop and handbook, and Induction house – a set of experiments for spatial projections. These projects were shown at the Venice Biennale of Architecture2004, 2006, China International New Media Arts Exhibition 2008, NTT ICC Tokyo, ISEA 2004 Helsinki and 2006 San Jose, Ars Electronica 2006, Kiasma Museum Helsinki, Ludwig Museum Budapest.

Adam is directing aether architecture, working as the program director of Kitchen Budapest medialab, and he is lecturing and holding workshops in architecture and design schools across Europe.