This publication has been created by conducting numerous scanning trips across Seoul city. Me and Varvara Guljajeva were interested in exploring urban information layer and its network density. Metaphorically speaking, the art project underlines digital landscape of the city.
We have developed a tool that enables us to discover wireless communication devices around us. Hence, we know the WiFi names, their mac addresses and locations around us. Also the collection of networks’ names describes each scanned area and communicates cultural background or self-expression.
The interest towards digital information has been always present in our artistic practice since its beginning. Mostly we apply data as artistic material and reflect on the paradigm of information age.
Concerning an inspiration source for ‘Revealing Digital Landscape’ project’s cultural aspect, we were surprised by the phenomenon of using WiFi network names for communication and self-expression purposes. An increasing amount of people tent to name their Wi-Fi networks creatively. To be more specific, by the name of WiFi hotspot persons communicate with their neighbors, express their attitude, state their political or religious point of views, use for advertisement purposes and more. This kind of behavior has caught some media attention and even attracted a number of collectors, who are collecting juicy names of WiFi networks.
Daily News writes following: Adolpho Hernandez, who lives near Columbia University, came up with a network name to spite a pot-smoking neighbor. He called his stopsmokingweed. “This is my way of telling him to quit it, ’cause it stinks up the building,” said Hernandez, 22. “Wi-Fi’s probably the best way to let someone in your building know what you honestly think, good or bad, because everyone’s stealing each other’s Internet.”
The recent U.S. president elections is a perfect example for expressing political opinion through naming a WiFi network accordingly. Often a name of WiFi hotspot would reveal, a favored candidate. On this topic reports Mail Online in the article “Obamasux vs VoteObama: What Wi-Fi network names reveal about sentiments towards the U.S. president”.
Hence, the 32-character-space for naming a WiFi network, has become in a way a location-specific mini Twitter or prosthesis of identity even. In other words, we are talking about the age of bite-sized self-expression.
From the other hand, we are interested in researching the invisible layers of information and communication in urban space. All this we see as new digital landscapes, which we aim to visualize and sculpture.
Our aim is to relate to this phenomenon artistically by revealing the names of networks and memorizing their location. The idea is to make sense of novel communication and create a big picture of citizens’ voices.