Broken Arrow

2008, 2009 versions

Software and hardware scanning for wireless devices and signals (with Ian Verchere)

Broken Arrow uses various sensing hardware to detect devices in the vicinity across a range of wireless frequencies — Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, cordless phones, radio, RFID, etc. It outputs a stream of Geiger-counter clicks or insect-like chirps for each device or frequency detected. In some environments, these audio streams sometimes layer into a cacophonous audio texture. Like sonar or a Geiger detector, the project makes unseen information in the environment tangible, perhaps reminding us of the density of this invisible domain. The unnerving audio pulses draw out our ambivalent relationship to communication and locative technologies, which expand our social networks but also expose us to potential threat through proximity, vulnerability of data, and the possible health risks of the electromagnetic spectrum. The project makes audible the constant networking performed by our devices (sometimes without our being conscious of it). It references and suggests relationships between different realms and eras of detection and locative technologies: the detection of radioactive particles by a Geiger counter, the acoustic pinging of sonar, the call-and-response of insects, and today's ubiquitous mobile devices. All are used as locative tools and, like a tuned sensor, are used to process or interpret a world of information around them.

Collaboration with Ian Verchere. 2008 version co-produced with Banff New Media Institute. 2009 version commissioned by Luminato Festival.

Solo Exhibitions: Germaine Koh, Apr-May 2008.
Group Exhibitions: Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Sorting Daemons: Art, Surveillance Regimes & Social Control, Jan-Apr 2010.
Group Exhibitions: Luminato Festival 2009, Jun 2009.
Reviews, Articles & Essays: Samir Gandesha, essay, 2009. PDF
Reviews, Articles & Essays: Jan Allen, Public, 2010.
Reviews, Articles & Essays: Amanda Happé, , 2009.

Germaine Koh, Broken Arrow (with Ian Verchere), 2008, software and hardware scanning for wireless signals. Installation for Luminato Festival, Toronto, 2009. Photo: Germaine Koh.