Listening Space is an on-going artistic research that was born during eTextile Spring Break 2019 between Afroditi Psarra and e-textile designer and co-founder of the Datapaulette hackerspace in Paris, Audrey Briot.

This project explores transmissions ecologies as a means of perceiving the surrounding environment beyond our human abilities. Conceptually the project seeks to define satellite data as raw material for artistic expression, to understand and re-imagine in poetic means, representations of audio and images broadcasted from space, using body movement and gesture as actuators to explore remote sensing.

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 surrounds 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 the sonic qualities of data collection and archiving, and bodies as agents of power to re-interpret current technologies.
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, Listening Space seeks to explore satellite transmissions as discrete embodied machines, by observing their liveness at a rhythm dictated by their orbit.

Through hands-on experimentation, 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.

Archive of recordings

References/inspiration
https://open-weather.community/
https://www.ewenchardronnet.com/semaphore/acoustic_space_lab/
https://satnogs.org/
https://libre.space/

Tech
RTL-SDR software-defined radio dongle
CubicSDR software-defined radio application
Noaa-apt and WXtoImg Beta to decode the audio transmission
Brother KH-930 and SilverReed SK-840 knitting machines for data knitting

Experiments

Antenna designs
a. Sierpinski Triangle textile antenna made with copper conductive paint and vinyl cut stencil method

b. Enamelled copper wire V-dipole antenna

c. Copper tape V-dipole antenna

d. V-dipole antenna made of a coat’s hanger

e. V-dipole telescopic antenna from RTL-SDR

Successful NOAA recordings in Wassaic

f. Wearable V-dipole made of copper thread

Decodes
From The Wassaic Project, Amenia, NY - using the coat’s hanger V-dipole antenna. ZIP code: 12592


Noaa14_4_11_137.000_18:49


Noaa14_4_11_137.000_18:32


Noaa18_4_11_137.000_18:29


Noaa15_4_12_137.623_16:18

From Saint-André, France - using the V-dipole telescopic antenna from the RTL-SDR dongle kit. ZIP code : 66690

NOAA18_5_8_137.915_22:06

For more info on Listening Space please check: https://art2020.isea-international.org/art-portfolio/afroditi-psarra-audrey-briot/
https://www.dx-softlab.com/blog/2019/5/12/listening-space-by-afroditi-psarra-amp-audrey-briot


ISWC'19 Design Exhibition, Queen Elizabeth II Center, London, UK

“Listening Space: Satellite Ikats” Proceedings of the 23rd International Symposium on Wearable Computers (ISWC), London, UK, September 12-14, pp. 318-321.

Listening Space was presented at Our Networks and ISEA 2020 as an online performance.

Further development on this project is anticipated in Spring 2021, with Audrey Briot's artist residency and Eleftherios Kosmas' technologist residency in DXARTS at the University of Washington.