Listening Space @ CTM Radio Lab

This webpage provides additional materials for Listening Space @ CTM Radio Lab by Afroditi Psarra and Audrey Briot.

Our thematic statement: 

In our personal work and research, we are creating cyber physical systems for sensing the invisible universe that surround us, for augmenting our perception of space and challenging the notions of everyday life that we are immersed in, that often disconnect us from the physical environment and other-than-human processes that are continuously taking place around us. Even though we are surrounded by an ever-growing grid of communication networks, these infrastructures often remain unseen and unfelt, while the immense amount of data traveling continuously through this grid are mostly pertaining to corporate, governmental and military agencies. By using open-source tools, DIY electronics, hardware hacking and digital crafts, we aim to approach art and science and create artifacts that explore the idea of citizen science. Specifically, by focusing on electromagnetic-field (EMF) and radio frequency (RF) detection, we aim to re-claim the depth of transmission ecologies, evolving at a higher rhythm than liveness, through our environment and bodies. 

Listening Space is an artistic research which explores transmissions ecologies as a means of perceiving the surrounding environment beyond our human abilities. Conceptually the project seeks to define transmissions ecologies as raw material for artistic expression, to understand and re-imagine in poetic means, representations of audio and images broadcasted from space, while regarding knitted textiles as a physical medium for memory storage and archiving. 

Audrey Briot in Cap Béar, France, on September 1st 2020, intercepting the NOAA 15 weather satellites’ audiovisual transmission using an Android cellphone with SDRTouch and a V-dipole antenna.
NOAA 15, intercepting from Cap Béar by Audrey Briot, using SDRTouch on Android, a RTL-SDR Dongle and a V-dipole antenna.
audrey.briot · NOAA 15 01092020

A NOAA 18 transmission detection using Cubic SDR
NOAA18_5_8_137.915_22:06 decoded satellite transmission

NOAA 15 audiovisual transmission, 22/08/2020, from Naxos, Greece.

Our project proposal: 

Within the context of this year’s CTM Festival, we propose a live performance where the artists record and decode NOAA satellite transmissions in real-time from their respective locations using wearable antennas. The aim of this performance is to share in real-time the process of listening, intercepting and decoding satellite data, and to make this process into a participatory experience. This live performance using wearable antenna will be a new artwork, part of the research project.

Afroditi Psarra in Seattle, DC, intercepting the NOAA 15 weather satellite audiovisual transmission using Software-Defined-Radio, Cubic SDR and hand-crafted wearable antenna.
Audrey Briot attempting to intercept a NOAA 15 audiovisual transmission using a wearable antenna and a Software-Defined-Radio.

Listening Space was born during the eTextile Spring Break residency program that took place in upstate New York at the beginning of April 2019. Driven by our previous explorations in non-verbal communication systems, we set out to explore RF detection, while considering the human body as an interface for sensing the invisible universe that surround us. By investigating the energies that have been harvested by humanity to knit this complex layer, a turbulent sea of radio waves that penetrates the fabric of our everyday lives even if it remains unseen and unheard, we aim to create poetic connotations between textiles-as a means of data detection, collection and archiving, and bodies as agents of power to re-interpret current technologies through handmade crafting techniques. Specifically, the ecologies of transmission that comprise the Radio Spectrum, are no doubt the ultimate expression of the Anthropocene, as they permit the operation of human life as we know it (telecommunications, environmental monitoring, radio astronomy, FM/AM radio etc) and shape our understanding of the planet. In this context the research project Listening Space seeks to explore satellites transmissions, as discrete embodied machines, by observing their liveness, at a rhythm dictated by their orbit. 

Decoded image from the NOAA 18 transmission at eTextile Spring Break, Wassaic, NY, USA.

Previously, we sought to intercept the NOAA weather satellites’ audiovisual transmissions using Software-Defined-Radio and hand-crafted antennas. This process aligned perfectly with the idea of citizen science that both of us are exploring in our work. The intercepted signals were then knitted into textiles that we named Satellite Ikats, as a means of physical archiving of the detection and decoding process. These knitted memory artifacts were created using a hacked domestic double bed knitting machine, and their imagery is comprised by fragments of the audio transmissions, based on gaps and counts. Textiles occupy a central place in Listening Space: we seek to enhance the human capability to sense and to embody the dialogues intercepted between earth and its satellites.

You can find the archive of NOAA satellites recordings and decodes by Afroditi Psarra and Audrey Briot on Github and Soundcloud:

audrey.briot · Listening Space