The sound of friction from the grinding motors rotating the antenna array in the center of the room is not intended to frighten anxious spectators. On the contrary, the installation seeks to visually demonstrate otherwise imperceptible aspects of 5G wireless technology, revealing the frictional forces propagating throughout the high-frequency networked environment. What if your exact geographic location was known and available online 24/7? What if the quality of your connection is determined by your work history? What if your smartphone directly informs foreign intelligence about your political preferences?
Frictions and Frequencies introduces a new work from Studio Weise7 artists and engineers Sarah Grant, Bengt Sjölén, and Danja Vasiliev, entitled Phase Shift. The project is a collaboration between Weise7 and The Critical Infrastructure Lab (University of Amsterdam). Phase Shift demonstrates a signal processing technique called beamforming, which describes the technology of precisely directing a wireless signal towards a receiving device, such as your mobile phone.
This showcase also features a slideshow of cell tower photographs taken by students from the Neue Medien an der Kunsthochschule Kassel. The images represent close-up shots of the towers intended to draw attention to critical cellular infrastructure in our urban environment. We encourage showcase visitors to locate similar infrastructure on a map of Berlin in order to learn more about the equipment comprising these cell towers.
Frictions and Frequencies invites a discussion on what lies behind the many benefits of 5G next-generation networks that are already among us, although still on their way to reaching their full potential. 5G networks operate over newly assigned frequency bands for communication between people and machines, making way for new kinds of assemblages of technologies, people, and political interests. With these new intertwinings will also come unexpected frictions, breakdowns, and unintended applications. Exploring these assemblages in all their possibilities and perils is the central topic addressed by Frictions and Frequencies show.