Hertzian Field #2

  • Hertzian Field #2 @ ZKM Globale 2016: Performing Sound, Playing Technology

An augmented reality immersive performance

“We do not think right away of the distances that separate objects from one another. For space is never empty: it always embodies a meaning. The perception of gaps itself brings the whole body into play”
Henri Lefebvre: The production of space, 1974

“We no longer have roots, we have aerials”
Wark McKenzie: Virtual Geography, 1994


Hertzian Field #2 is an augmented reality immersive performance – an urban ritual for the 21st century, exposing the sympathetic resonance of the human body to the invisible flow of wireless communication.

We live engulfed in radio fields, moving unawares through turbulent streams of data. Wireless networks have imposed their very material presence in our spaces, layering invisible strata as real as the air we breathe. While we lack the capacity to sense them, they feel our presence as our bodies block, reflect and displace radio waves. Material reality seeps in the communication channel; beyond distributing our data, the infosphere has a side effect: it transmits information about physical space and our bodies within. Our data networks are public radars, lending a radio ear to anyone listening.

In Hertzian Field #2, 3 WiFi transmitters/scanners form an isosceles triangle radiating a dynamic electromagnetic architecture at 2.427GHz. As the performer enters the field, the water molecules in his body spin, brought into resonance by radio waves. Electromagnetic energy is transduced into molecular kinetic energy and then heat inside the body, leaving radio shadows behind. The radio field’s fluctuation is captured and analyzed, revealing the body’s electromagnetic resonance. The WiFi sensing system is coupled to an audio feedback network surrounding the audience – a sonic mirror of the field – to create an environment in which body, space, movement, sound, and WiFi waves are entangled in a quantum embrace.

Hertzian Field #2 uses a new sensing technique developed by the artist, inspired by research in radio astronomy, surveillance, and acoustics.

Year: 2016
Type: Solo interactive performance
Description: Augmented reality immersive performance
Dimensions: 4 m x 4 m (approximate)
Duration: Variable
Capacity: Variable
Materials/Media: WiFi network, Raspberry Pi computers with WiFi cards, software, stands, loudspeakers, sound, light
Software: SuperCollider, Perl, Unix Shell networking tools
Photo credit: ZKM Onuk 2016

Hertzian Field #2 was created in 2015-16 for the GLOBALE exhibition of ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, as a response to the info-sphere thematic. The performance premiered at the GLOBALE: Playing Sound, Performing Technology festival on contemporary musical instruments and interfaces (6.2.2016). It was also presented within the context of the New Sensorium exhibition (GLOBALE Finale: Sonic Senses, 17.4.2016) in the closing concert of GLOBALE festival.


Hertzian Field #2 at ZKM GLOBALE Festival 2016, Karlsruhe.
Live performance by Stelios Manousakis

ZKM symposium talk: The body as interface through interference: Wireless Information Retrieval in the Hertzian Field

ZKM GLOBALE: The body as interface through interference

Talk by Stelios Manousakis at the ZKM GLOBALE: Performing Sound, Playing Technology symposium, titled “The body as interface through interference: Wireless Information Retrieval in the Hertzian Field”.