June 2 - July 14, 2007
Opening June 1, 5:00 p.m.
Nederlands Instituut voor Mediakunst
audiovisual performance and installation environment
Erich Berger 2004
The audiovisual installation/performance TEMPEST draws its name from a U.S government code word for a set of standards for limiting electric or electromagnetic radiation emanations from electronic equipment such as microchips, monitors or printers.
In 1985, Wim van Eck published the first unclassified technical analysis of the security risks of emanations from computer monitors.
Because of his research radiation from computer monitors is sometimes called "Van Eck Radiation" and the associated surveillance technology "Van Eck Phreaking". "Van Eck Phreaking" means that computer screen content can be reconstructed remotely by picking up the emitted EM-field of the computer screen.
Any electronic device that is switched on (a mobile, a laptop, a GPS receiver) generates constant electromagnetic emissions, even if it is on standby. British designers Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby called this "The Secret Life of Electronic Objects", the perception that the activity of electronic technology is not transparent or subject to the way it is used by consumers; below the friendly interfaces hide autonomous processes with their own dynamics.
"Tempest" utilizes the basic principles of the "Van Eck Phreaking" technique to transform purely generative graphic into a tight and intense composition of sound, noise and light.
Following a long tradition of subverting military technologies for creative purposes, Erich Berger creates an audiovisual piece in which the relationship between images and sounds is precisely determined by the electromagnetic emissions produced by the monitor.
The graphics that appear on the screen in "Tempest" produce radio waves which, when captured using various radios tuned to different AM frequencies, become the sharp and vibrant sounds that go along with the images.