Forests of Antennas, Oceans of Waves
is a series of events taking place in Berlin from May to October 2022, consisting of seven artistic interventions in urban spaces; a conference, scenario workshop and a site-specific sound installation in cooperation with the Museum für Kommunikation Berlin, a concert evening at Panke Culture and a final exhibition in the project space Liebig12.
All events will be in English.
30 September to 9 October
30 September • 18:00
1–9 Oktober • 14:00–20:00
Liebig12 • Liebigstraße 12
Artist Talk with Susanna Hertrich and Jonathon Keats:
6. Oktober • 18:00
Galiläa-Kirche • Rigaerstraße 9/10
With works by Susanna Hertrich and Jonathon Keats
Light and radio waves can be disorienting for birds and insects like butterflies, especially in cities. Also some other species, such as the elephant-nosed fish, have sensory organs sensitive to electric and electromagnetic fields, making them capable of electrolocation.
Using the animal kingdom as well as mythologies of electromagnetic phenomena as a starting points of reflection and speculation, the final exhibition of the event series Forests of Antennas, Oceans of Waves focuses on the artistic examination of both human and non-human sensory perception of electromagnetic radiation. The works presented in the exhibition use speculative approaches and thought experiments as starting points for their exploration of sensory relationships with anthropogenic signal-based invisible environments: To ensure that birds and butterflies arrive at the right place at the right time, and don’t get lost along the way, Jonathon Keats designs technologies to provide flocks and swarms with on-the-fly guidance directed by advance reconnaissance. Inspired by ideas of cybernetic systems theory, Susanna Hertrich explores the both mythologies and limits of human sensory perception through the notions of the ether and aesthetics of antennas as gateways to higher spheres.
The exhibition invites visitors to reflect on potentials and limits of bodily and sensory perception, and about how non-anthropogenic technological environments could look like. On 6 October at 18:00, both artists will present their work and approaches and engage in conversation with the audience.
Photo: Jen Dessinger
Susanna Hertrich’s transmedia practice draws from our relationship to technology in an increasingly technologised sphere. It is the artist’s surreal imagining of a novel functionality of objects that operates as a link between reality and fiction. She exhibits internationally at Triennale Milano; HEK, Basel; HKW, Berlin; Boston Center for the Arts; Vienna Biennial; Vitra Design Museum; CAFA, Beijing; and many more. Her work has been funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, Goethe Institute, Atelier Mondial, Berlin Senate and others.
Jonathon Keats is an artist, writer and experimental philosopher whose participatory thought experiments adapt methods from the sciences and the humanities to explore societal conditions and planetary futures. He is a research associate at the University of Arizona’s Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill, a visiting scholar at San Jose State University’s CADRE Laboratory for New Media, a research fellow at the Highland Institute, a consulting philosopher at Earth Law Center, and an artist-in-residence at the SETI Institute, Flux Projects, UC San Francisco, and Hyundai.
On 5 October, we invite you to a concert evening at Panke Culture in Wedding, with two new sound performances presented by the artists Marta Zapparoli and Martin Howse. Both artists have developed works for this evening and our project series: Marta Zapparoli’s practice is based on several years of research and recordings of Natural Radio phenomena; for this event she will present a sound-light composition based on recent recordings of Northern Lights phenomena. Martin Howse will performatively decode earth and air signals through unrefined electrochemistry and manipulation of earth-bound electrons, air and light.
Interdimensional Generated Space
Interdimensional Generated Space is a research-intensive piece focusing on the transcendental phenomenon of the Northern Lights. The performance uses the implementation of self-made recordings in combination with crystal radio, light, detectors, and motors to simulate a technological audio-visual version of Northern Lights in the space. “Interdimensional” specifically refers to the movement of energy between modes of perception. One part of this energy comes from the composed mixture of »natural cosmic voices«; another part is coming from the electromagnetic forces generated in real time during the performance. The piece will make full use of the contrasts of the invisible processes, to create a new experience of space, time, and human scale. The piece is an attempt to achieve a unique sonic dialogue between »natural« and »technological« world, a reflection on nature that is imitated by technology in an anthropogenic age.
The Final Session
The Final Session describes a set of actions and invocations for contemporary augury or divination, for night visions and for dream incubation. Inspired by vapours, by fumes and smoke from industrial chimneys and rotting snakes, burning forests, pure piercing notes and colours, The Final Session decodes earth and air signals through unrefined electrochemistry and manipulation of earth-bound electrons, air and light. That which is to be divined in the unfaithful language of replayed temperature change, earthy smoke, dust, glass machines, plant stones, and ear stones are the various past and future depositions, intrusions, compressions, degradations, and gradings of lithic entropy, these everyday deformations of contemporary energy.
The Final Session is a performance for custom electronics, particulate and burning matters, temperature/light sensors, and laser.
Foto: Peter Miranski
Foto: Nik Gaffney
Marta Zapparoli is an Italian sound artist, improviser, performer, and independent researcher based in Berlin. In recent years her work focussed on the intersection of the visible and the invisible aspects of physics, seeking to activate all the poetic and conceptual levels. She captures unique recordings of electromagnetic radiation coming from outer space, Natural Radio (VLF) and electro-smog, and radio wave communication from the technological world. The relation-connection-dialogue between nature and our technological world is a central theme in her work. Her main instruments are a variety of antennas, radio receivers, detectors, tape recorders, and band machines. Since 2003 she has been active in live performances, site-specific work, and improvisation. Among other projects she is a member of Splitter Orchester in Berlin.
Martin Howse is occupied with an investigation of the links between the earth (geophysical phenomena), software and the human psyche (psychogeophysics) through the construction of experimental situations (performance, laboratories, walks, and workshops), material art works and texts.
From 1998 to 2005 Howse was director of ap, a software performance group working with electronic waste, pioneering an early approach to digital glitch. From 2007 to 2009 he hosted a regular workshop, micro-residency and salon series in Berlin. Howse has worked and collaborated on acclaimed projects and practices such as The Crystal World, Psychogeophysics, Earthboot, Sketches towards an Earth Computer and Dissolutions. He is the creator of the esoteric ERD modular synthesizer series, and founder of the Tiny Mining extractive community.
With the emerging smart city technologies, more and more sensors, devices and antennas are transmitting and capturing our information. They enable ever more comprehensive and faster digital interaction, but they are also defining it. How do new technological developments affect our way of moving around the city? Who controls our data and what does technical democracy mean?
At 10:00 and 15:00 on Saturday 14 May, the artist duo invites a small group of participants to join them for two hours of an investigative journey through the streets of Berlin to track down and explore the concept of the smart city and the data streams in which we are immersed in. As an alternative to historical walks and sightseeing tours, the Techno-Politic Walk challenges participants to find, measure, analyse, discuss and document the traces left by our data traveling on high-speed routes through the air, our bodies and objects around us.
The data collected and analysed by the participants will then be used by the artists to visualise and map the areas and data streams encountered on the walks. The resulting graphic will then be published on a billboard along one of the routes of the walk as an artwork and visual manifesto in the public urban space.
»In the world of electromagnetic cosmology (and industry), understanding the electromagnetic field is the only way to understand ourselves and our environment.«
Bureau d’études is a conceptual artists group working primarily with the medium of the map. They map the relations of power, ownership and interest in politics, economics and the social sphere on global and local levels, thus creating an awareness of how seemingly unrelated things are in reality connected when viewed from a larger perspective. The maps help to unravel complex systems and to recognise our own position within them. Once you know where you are, you can steer your own course, suggest alternatives and use the map to find new paths for yourself or your community
INTERVENTION 14 May • Main entrance to Tempelhofer Feld, Columbiadamm 124 • 11:00 & 15:00
The 2nd intervention moves away from the streets of the city and focuses on the waterways of Berlin as public space, considering infrastructures of flow in terms of water as well as electromagnetic waves. Radio Otherwise will create a transitional, environmental radiophonic space for the encounter and interaction of signals, bodies, ecologies and knowledges, made while circling thresholds of transmissions and architectures, beyond the purely anthropogenic.
A temporary studio will be set up on the Unkraut boat (unkraut.berlin) for a live transmission as it slowly moves from the south-east periphery towards the city of Berlin. During its journey, the studio will both receive and transmit, thus creating a complex system of interdependence: Live inputs from a variety of electromagnetic signals from both natural and human-made sources come together on the water, together with the live environmental sounds of the transient studio space.
These live generated soundscapes, which are composed of the constantly changing sources and signals received during the journey, will be broadcast on 88.4 FM in Berlin, 90.7 FM in Potsdam, streamed online at radiootherwise.net and antennenozeane.de, starting with the beginning of the journey at 17:00. It will also be narrowcast via micro FM, so that local reception will be possible within 400 metres of the boat. Listeners will be able to connect online throughout this period or also pick up a passing FM signal from the riverside. We encourage people to find spots around Plänterwald, Rummelsburg, Treptow etc and receive the transit emission with their own radios.
The culmination of the event will be a live performance starting at 21:13, the beginning of sunset – the threshold between day and night, a time in which radio signals naturally propogate further. The transmission performance can only be received via FM radios on location at Stralauer Spitze – BYOR (Bring Your Own Radio).
Thanks to Cashmere Radio for broadcasting during their programme.
Radio Otherwise is an ongoing artistic research project motivated by the many knots which art, knowledge-making/sharing and communication encounter.Thinking and doing radio otherwise means focussing beyond purely anthropogenic transmissions, recognising relationality within the spectrum of more-than-human radio ecologies. Together with a wide network of radio enthusiasts, Kate Donovan, Monai de Paula Antunes and Niko de Paula Lefort explore the plurality of experiences involved in radio-making in connection to ecological thinking.
INTERVENTION 27 May • Stralauer Spitze, 10245 Berlin • Webradio radiootherwise.net • 17:00–21:13 & 21:13 Uhr (Sonnenuntergang)
I remember the scene with nostalgia: a group of fishermen working on a fishing net with threads and needles. It is a communal act: working on the same piece of fabric together simultaneously, creating hoops and loops.
On 25th of June 2022, a group of experienced crafters will gather in a park. Their craft technique is slow, yet their hand movements are fast and accurate. It demands skill, practice and patience. They will sit around in a circle and work together for hours, working at a steady pace, making slow but beautiful progress.
They are skilled crocheters. What they make is an antenna made of copper thread. Technology we are so used to living with, like radios, wifi and mobile phones, communicate with tiny electric waves that are imperceivable to us. These Hertzian waves create tiny oscillating currents in antennas. When these oscillations are amplified, we can hear them.
Come along, watch and take part in how an antenna is crocheted. Listen to the Hertzian waves picked up by this slowly growing, handmade antenna.
KOBAKANT (Mika Satomi, Hannah Perner-Wilson)
Mika Satomi and Hannah Perner-Wilson have been collaborating since 2006, and in 2008 formed the collective KOBAKANT. Together, through their work, they explore the use of textile crafts and electronics as a medium for commenting on technological aspects of today’s »high-tech« society. KOBAKANT believes in the spirit of humoring technology, often presenting their work as a twisted criticism of the stereotypes surrounding textile craftsmanship and electrical engineering. KOBAKANT believes that technology exists to be hacked, handmade and modified by everyone to better fit our personal needs and desires.
INTERVENTION 25 June • Herrfurthplatz, Schillermarkt • 12:00–16:00
8 & 9 July
Sarah Grant and Danja Vasiliev facilitate an idea of electromagnetic signals by asking: what would it be like to be such a signal ourselves? In a manner reminiscent of Fluxus performances, participants are given instructions to move through the city as embodied signals. The performative walks guided by the artists aim at exploring how they get reflected and absorbed by obstacles on their paths, the influence of narrow passages on signal bandwidth, and how natural barriers such as water, trees and pedestrians might interfere with signal transmissions. After an introduction and training walks, the participants will become a signal formation in a final performative action. Become a Wifi signal (8 July) or 5G signal (9 July).
»I have asked you to imagine these electric and magnetic fields. What do you do? Do you know how? How do I imagine the electric and magnetic field? What do I actually see? What are the demands of the scientific imagination? Is it any different from trying to imagine that the room is full of invisible angels?«
Richard Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics
Photo: Katja Goljat
Photo: Danja Vasiliev
Sarah Grant is an American artist and professor of new media based in Berlin at the Weise7 studio. Her teaching and art practice engages with the electromagnetic spectrum and computer networks as artistic material, social habitat, and political landscape. Since 2015, she has organized the Radical Networks conference in New York and Berlin, a community event and arts festival for critical investigations and creative experiments in
Danja Vasiliev Danja Vasiliev is a media artist, Critical Engineer and educator born in Saint-Petersburg, currently living and working in Berlin. Vasiliev studies Systems and Networks through anti-disciplinary experimentation with hardware, firmware and software. Using computational platforms he engages in examination and exploitation of System and Network paradigms in both the physical and digital realms. In October 2011, together with his colleagues Julian Oliver and Gordan Savičić, Vasiliev coauthored The Critical Engineering Manifesto.
INTERVENTION 8 & 9 July • Görlitzer Park (Görlitzer Straße/Görlitzer Ufer) • 16:00
Antennas and other infrastructures of mobile telecommunications have become a new, synthetic form of nature for us: Surveillance cameras, routers, traffic sensors, mobile towers, WiFi antennas, cables such as copper wire or fibre optics, data centres, server farms. The urban environment is full of such devices and the myriad services they rely on – from repair shops for everyday devices to maintenance teams replacing underground cables.
In the 3-hour workshop, led by Nicolas Nova, participants are invited to use design fiction methods to create a tangible and vivid prototype of these synthetic landscapes that sketch a possible (and more habitable) near future. Based on a series of observations and street interviews, participants will explore the potential of the digital infrastructure of the urban environment for the design of products, services and interactions.
Nicolas Nova is an anthropologist, design researcher, and writer. With a multidisciplinary background in social sciences, information technologies, design, and natural sciences, he divides his time between running international field-work projects, documenting new signals in the world, and making sense of them to inform design or strategy. Co-founder of a design fiction agency called The Near Future Laboratory, he is also Professor at the Geneva University of Arts and Design (HEAD–Genève).
INTERVENTION 16 July • Uferhallen • 12:00
27 & 28 August
»As evolved beings produced by a biosphere, we’re not capable of perceiving reality unassisted. There can only be our technical instrumentalities. Our weak, decaying, flawed, falsifiable, even pitiable instrumentalities. But that’s how we learn what’s natural and real – through the unnatural.« Bruce SterlingOur notions of nature and technology are inherently intermingled and separated only in our cultural articulations. Taking this premise as a starting point, the intervention presented by Selena Savic and Gordan Savičić marks the beginning of their new project »Antenna Fieldguide«, which gathers artistic representations of synthetic nature. Based on the special exhibition »Curious Communication: Unusual Objects and Stories from the Collection« at the Museum of Communication, the two artists* invite visitors to performative guided walks with specially produced antenna objects during the Lange Nacht der Museen. The guided tours developed by the artists expand the references of the exhibition through narratives around the different types and forms of antennas as elementary infrastructures of our contemporary communication and thus as everyday, hidden objects that are frequently encountered in urban and rural landscapes and yet are foreign to the eye. On the following day, a writing workshop will collect results that will be incorporated into the Antenna Fieldguide. Registration is required. The Entry is free. 3 Guided Walks: 20:00 / 21:00 / 22:00 15–20 minutes each Group size up to 15 people Selena Savic is a researcher and trained architect. Her research interests revolve around the mixture of computational processes with the built environment, exploring ways to communicate communication processes. After her PhD at EPFL and a postdoc at ATTP, TU Vienna, she joined the IXDM where she is currently Head of the Make/Sense PhD programme. She researches and writes about computational modeling, feminist hacking, and posthuman networks in the context of design and architecture. fhnw.ch kucjica.org Gordan Savičić is an artist, designer and critical engineer whose work investigates the relationship between people, networks and interfaces. He has a background in media art & visual communication and is active within the fields of academic research, teaching and new media. Born in Vienna, he currently lives and works in Lausanne, Switzerland. yugo.at
INTERVENTION 27 August • Guided walks • Museum für Kommunikation Berlin • 18:00–2:00 (part of the Lange Nacht der Museen)
WORKSHOP 28 August • feldfünf Projekträume • 14:00–17:00
This street intervention explores these matters of care through performance, storytelling and collective group encounters. Part two of In Your Aerial will take the form of an academic paper that will be presented as part of the programmes conference on 23–25 September.
Participation free of charge.
Photo: Lydia GooliaTeresa Dillon
An artist and researcher, Teresa’s work explores relationships between humans, other species, technology, cities and our environments. This currently manifests through two artistic-led research programmes, Repair Acts (2018–) and Urban Hosts (2013–). Repair Acts fosters ideas about restorative cultures and practices by connecting past stories of care, maintenance and healing, with what we do today and how we envision the future. With Urban Hosts practicing conversational and hospitality formats as a means to provoke ideas of encountering and »the alternative« within city spaces. As a Humboldt Fellow (UdK and TU, Berlin, 2014-16) her work documented artistic approaches to making the electromagnetic spectrum in cities audible and since the early 2000s, her work has been exhibited at various festivals and venues. Experienced in producing software and hardware projects, Teresa has also written on subjects such as open source processes, music, technology and design, sonic materiality’s and folklores, multispecies relations, surveillance, governance and the smart city, repair economies and artisan repair professions. Invited to co-curate transmediale (2016) and HACK-THE-CITY (2012) for the former, Science Gallery, Dublin, since 2016 holds the post of Professor of City Futures at the School of Art and Design, UWE, Bristol.
INTERVENTION 9 September • Alte Münze • 18:00
23 – 25 September
The conference Forests of antennas, oceans of waves consists of two parts: A public conference with a keynote for a general audience (Sept. 23–24) and a one-day thesis and scenario workshop for the speakers and invited guests (Sept. 25), from which a collection of results, theses and scenarios on 5G and urban environments will emerge.
The field of scientific and artistic engagement with the topic of 5G and electromagnetic urban environments in terms of social, aesthetic and cultural issues, i.e. beyond the usual medical and engineering framework, is still in its infancy. In this respect, we see the conference as an urgently needed prelude to a political-aesthetic engagement with the topic, which has so far mainly been occupied primarily by telecommunications companies and urban development actors under the buzzwords »networking,« »digitalization,« and »automation.«
The conference is structured by three topics. The first panel, entitled »City as Resource? The Socio-political Dimensions of Smart City« will focus on socio-political aspects associated with the keyword »smart city«, because there can be no smart city without stable 5G. Here the question arises for whom and what the urban space is a resource and what role the electromagnetic plays in this?
The second panel, entitled “Uncanny Radiation? Towards an Aesthetics of Electromagnetic Fields,« is devoted to the techno-aesthetic and cultural dimensions of radio networks. Here, the focus is on the broad, very heterogeneous spectrum of social perceptions of networked infrastructures and antennas in public space. On the one hand, this includes the question of how the invisible networks can be experienced aesthetically in order to come to our attention at all; but we will also critically examine forms of radiation criticism with regard to their motivations – from health risks, risks to nature, and conspiracy myths in which network expansion and radiation play a central role.
The third panel, »Radiation as Infrastructure? Techno-ecological Spheres« finally looks at the techno-ecological aspects of network technologies such as 5G in terms of resource consumption and sustainability. After all, »Smart City« and 5G can only be achieved by means of reinstalling countless antennas and endless cables in the ground, in street furniture such as bus stops and streetlights, and in parts of buildings.
Registration is requested
Jennifer Gabrys Cambridge University, UK •The Future is Phygital: 5G in Smart Cities and Smart Forests
After the keynote there will be a reception and presentation of the new site-specific and temporary sound installation BIAS by Mario de Vega, running for 24 hours at Museum für Kommunikation Berlin.
Introduction to the conference theme
Shintaro Miyazaki Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin & Birgit Schneider Potsdam University •
An exploration of art and theory in electromagnetic urban environments.
Panel 1: City as Resource? The Socio-political Dimensions of »Smart City«.
Gabriele Schliwa Utrecht University, NL • Dreams and the »smart« city: past, present, futures
Teresa Dillon IRL/UK/DE • In Your Aerial, part 2
12:15–13:45 Lunch break
Panel 2: Uncanny Radiation? Towards an Aesthetics of Electromagnetic Fields.
Susanna Hertrich Basel, CH • Sense-making in Aether Space
Rahul Mukherjee University of Pennsylvania, USA • Debating Cell Antenna Exposures: Another Genealogy of Sensitive Mediations
15:30–16:00 Coffee break
Panel 3: Radiation and Techno-ecological Spheres
Ignacio Farías & Nona Schulte-Römer Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin • Backgrounding 5G networks: The challenge of governing the risks of electromagnetic radiation
Ubiquity • Bregtje van der Haak, 2018 • Film Screening & Discussion
Thesis and scenario workshop
On Sunday, we invite the speakers of the conference to a thesis and scenario workshop. Here we want to further discuss the topics of the conference together in order to derive insights, exaggerations, theses and scenarios about what the smart city and the digitization of the city could still be beyond the already existing visions and master plans.
If you are interested in the thesis workshop on Sunday please send an email to shintaro.miyazaki[at]hu-berlin.de (with subject »scenario workshop«)
CONFERENCE & SOUND INSTALLATION 23–25 September • Museum für Kommunikation Berlin