Beyond visualizing electromagnetic fields
One of the most interesting projects I've seen lately is "the bubbles of radio" by Ingeborg Marie Dehs Thomas. Perhaps it's because I've always been intrigued by visualizing electromagnetic fields as shown by the work of Dunne+Rabby in "Hertzian Tales. As Timo describes on the Touch weblog:
"Using inspiration from richly illustrated books on botany, zoology and natural history, Ingeborg arrived at the concept of an encyclopeadia of radio waves that contains a selection of fictional radio ‘species’. Armed with a well researched and advanced knowledge of the use, application and technicalities of each radio technology she created fictional visualisations of the ways in which radio waves inhabit space. These are creative expressions based as much on personal creativity as on technical or scientific data like range and signal strength. Six contemporary radio technologies were visualised: Bluetooth, DMB, GSM, RFID, Wifi and Zigbee. (...) These visualisations are not intended to be technically accurate or to offer actionable information. Instead they provide a playful cue to reflect and consider radio as something tangible and physical to be experienced by other senses, not just through a screen."
The visualizations are available as a poster here (.pdf) and slides from the final presentation of the projects are there. The book they published seems to be a must have: it's a ‘fake’ encyclopedia of electromagnetic ﬁelds, with a main focus on wireless communication.
So why is that important to visualize these elements? As she describes in her report:
"There are many opportunities for where and what these patterns can be applied to. (...) They could be printed on fabric, for clothes and accessories, from handbags, umbrellas, to coats, linings and even underwear. They could be applied to domestic objects that are used near electromagnetic fields; apron for the microwave, cloth for the TV or telephone table, curtains for the windows facing the neares mobile communication antenna, to mention a few."
Why do I blog this? personal interest towards the topic. Although the press captured that project as "artist work to visualize bluetooth and wifi", I am pretty sure there is really more to draw out of this work. For example, I would be curious to see how people are aware of these airwaves and how they have a representation of them: how do we represent ourselves the airwaves of cell-phones or microwave-oven. And maybe in a second phase to use this a material to talk with people about the existence and the shape of electromagnetic fields (it would require a less barbarian vocabulary though).
Their usefulness is indeed tough to describe (it's more an intuition) but my impression is that making such things visual is an important first step before discussing them (as we human being are very visual-oriented).