Electromagetic Ecology

Electromagnetic Ecology
Electromagnetic Ecology

Together with Barrie James Sutcliffe

Installation – FM receivers, Feedback electronics, FM transmitters, FM radios

Negative feedback is a concept used in various contexts and applications. From systems theory to cybernetics to electrical engineering to medicine. Negative feedback is also a major component of the ideas behind ecology. You have an ecosystem which you want to keep in a certain order, but the ecosystem is always disturbed by new input from outside itself. In order to control the system and try to keep it in balance, you must adjust parts of the system to compensate for the influence from the outside. This adjustment is called negative feedback. You take parts of the dynamic of a system and change them, changing the system itself in order to keep it in balance. For example, our bodies must react and adjust themselves to stimuli like temperature changes in order to keep us alive. Thought is another system of feedback, which is a process that causes us to move and change our circumstances—as much as is possible, anyway. We can thus also apply this concept to the social systems which control us, keeping our society in a certain kind of balance. But whether or not that balance is something we actually want or benefit from is another question. But is it even appropriate to apply this concept to something so complex as society?

The sound in this installation happens in real time. We tune in to three different local radio stations transmitting on the FM band, which is part of a controlled and regulated electromagnetic spectrum. The sound of the radio stations are then put into three separate electronic feedback circuits. The sound of the stations is thus fed back into itself, creating an unbalanced and chaotic output, which is then rebroadcasted on three separate FM transmitters. This new signal is then received by the three clusters of radios spread out in the exhibition space.