Sky Ear is back on track and set to fly again!
The story begins in my studio in Japan several years ago. I was
wandering around trying to find good reception on my radio. I realised
that this was similar to the way I wandered around trying to find good
signal on my mobile phone. I started to imagine the undulating qualities
of an invisible topography that surrounded me: the varying
electromagnetic fields (EMF) that are present everywhere and that guided
me to certain parts of the room in much the same way that traditional
architectural elements do.
In Sky Ear, I wanted to give form to this space, to make visible the
invisible with a 25m diameter cloud of sensors responding to EMF in the
atmosphere. The cloud consists of 1000 extra-large helium balloons that
each contain 6 ultra-bright LEDs (which mix to make millions of
colours). The balloons can communicate with each other via infra-red;
this allows them to send signals to create larger patterns across the
entire Sky Ear cloud.
As visitors call into the different mobile phones in the cloud, they
listen to the distant electromagnetic sounds of the sky (called
whistlers and spherics, which are the audible equivalent of the Aurora
Borealis). Their mobile phone calls change the local electromagnetic
topography and cause disturbances in the EMF inside the cloud that
alters the glow intensity and colour of that part of the balloon cloud.
Feedback within the sensor network creates ripples of light reminiscent
of rumbling thunder and flashes of lightning.
The cloud shows both how a natural invisible electromagnetism pervades
our environment and also how our mobile phone calls and text messages
delicately affect the new and existing electromagnetic fields. As an art
project, Sky Ear encourages people to become creative participants in an
electromagnetic performance; as an architecture project, Sky Ear makes
visible our daily interactions with the invisible topographies of
Sky Ear will be open to the public at 19.00 on September 15, 2004 at The
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich Park, London and is financially
assisted by the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science and
Technology. More information about the project is available here: