Hertzian Field #1

  • Hertzian Field #1 @ ZKM by Stelios Manousakis - performance

An augmented reality immersive environment

How do we move within the network when we can hear its shape?

Hertzian Field #1 is an immersive augmented reality environment that exposes the raw materiality of the WiFi communication medium, exploring its physical interaction with our spaces and our bodies through sound.

Our increasingly digitized lives are flooding our spaces with rivers of radio waves. We live engulfed in wireless fields, moving unawares through turbulent streams of data. The WiFi network has imposed its very material presence in our living spaces – a parallel stratum we cannot see or feel, but is as real as the air we breath. While we may lack the capacity to sense them, wireless networks can feel our presence, as our bodies block, reflect and displace radio waves. This material reality seeps into the communication channel: beyond simply carrying and distributing our data, wireless communication has a side effect – it also transmits information about physical space and our own bodies. Our data networks are effectively public radars, readily sharing their secrets to anyone listening.

At the core of Hertzian Field #1 is the WiFi network, an invisible dynamic field of radio waves occupying the exhibition space. A transmitter in the center of four receivers in a square formation creates an electromagnetic cross at 2.427GHz. A strong beam emanates from the center to each receiver, with weaker fields filling the area between them – the riverbeds and the riverbanks of hertzian flow. The body of a performer or a visitor interferes with this dynamic radio field, shaping and distorting it. A reactive system performs a ‘composed transduction’ of electromagnetic waves into sound from the point of view of each receiver, sonifying the dispersal of radio waves in the exhibition space caused by bodies and movement. The body-as-electromagnetic-shadow conducts the system through movement, influenced by the system’s sound to move in particular ways and areas. Movement, sound, and hertzian field become entangled in a feedback loop, creating spontaneous choreographies within a viscuous and moldable radio architecture.

Year: 2014
Type: Environment (Interactive installation / performance)
Description: Augmented reality immersive environment
Dimensions: 5 m x 5 m (approximate)
Duration: Variable
Capacity: Variable
Materials/Media: WiFi network, Raspberry Pi computers with WiFi cards, software, stands, loudspeakers, sound, light
Software: SuperCollider, Unix Shell networking tools
Photo credit: Anna-Lena Vogel, Fabian Selbach


Hertzian Field #1 at the ZKM_Kubus, Karlsruhe.
Live interference improvisation by Stelios Manousakis

Hertzian Field #1 @ Creativity Zone, Brighton, UK

Hertzian Field #1 at the Creativity Zone, Brighton.
Live interference improvisation by Eugenia Demeglio.

Hertzian Field #1.1 (moving)

Hertzian Field #1 (moving) at the Creativity Zone, Brighton. A performative variation of the environment, in which the performer is wearing the transmitter.
Live interference improvisation by Eugenia Demeglio.


The piece was developed and exhibited during a month-long artist residency at ZKM Karlsruhe (Center for Art and Media), in June-July 2014.

April 2015 brought further explorations of the system in a performative setting, with performers/choreographers Bridget Fiske and Joseph Lau in Manchester (with the kind support of the University of Salford), and Eugenia Demeglio in Brighton (with the kind support of the University of Sussex – aditional thanks to Thor Magnusson and Thanos Polymeneas Liontiris).

ZKM artist in disussion page, about this piece and more:

ZKM | IMA Lab No. 25: Stelios Manousakis

Stelios Manousakis, guest artist at the ZKM | Institute for Music and Acoustics, in discussion with Ludger Brümmer giving insights into his work on a new system of spatial detection of the human body and its movements.