Sunday, 8 November 2009


Webpage artworks – Wi-Fi colourful life

From the ethnography, the data present the different cities have their framework to construct the house metaphor. The framework and mapping principles are important consideration to build artworks in this project.

This art project aims to build artworks as the progress of theory. Unlike other artists created a series of artworks to explain their idea, this project creates artworks as a theory to interpret the relationship of Wi-Fi and cultural/social issues. Fieldwork is the first step to practice and examine my hypothesis before the theoretical artworks appear. The hypothesis of this project is Wi-Fi experience help users to shape cyborg identity.

Wi-Fi networks are popular in world’s modern cities, including London, New York and Hong Kong, and they are presented by different ways. In London, many houses have their own Wi-Fi access points and telecom company BT has installed many commercial Wi-Fi hotspots in most public places. Besides static hotspots, Wi-Fi hotspots also appear on particular trains and coaches and parts of US airplanes. On the one hand, most newspapers and advertisements focus on Wi-Fi’s easy-access and wireless attributes and commercial business. On the other hand, artists, sociologists and geographers consider Wi-Fi as social movement, digital citizenship and spectacle in our society. They offer us a whole social view to explain and interpret how Wi-Fi technology opens and shapes our new Internet life in wireless way. Their concerns tend to explore the public life but Wi-Fi also play an important role in our private life and ourselves, and house and human body are the key to understand the effect of Wi-Fi and the connection between private and public sphere.

Wi-Fi machines are widely adopted in many home houses, no matter the machines from Internet service providers or bought by the users. Wi-Fi machines are like taps and over/heater which receive water/gas from pipes then emitting them. Wi-Fi machines are different from water, gas and electricity, because Wi-Fi machines as traditional telephone/cable/ADSL moderns connect two different worlds, real world and cyberspace. Internet connection project users to cyberspace and become another identity in the cyberspace. Cyberspace is metaphor and symbol of our real life and network devices, moderns and Wi-Fi machines, are the important medium to create and embody metaphors and symbols. In the other words, network devices are special property in every house to produce and reproduce metaphors and symbols. In contrast to cable/telephone moderns, Wi-Fi machines expand Internet connection from a socket like a tap to wireless signal like heater’s air which covers house members everywhere in the house. We can directly use gas, water, electricity, and television signal from particular devices, such as TV sets, ovens and taps, but members need their Wi-Fi-quipped devices, computers or mobile devices, to access Internet although wireless signal exists in the house. While computers connect to Internet by network cables to telephone lines, computers are extensions of modems or telephones and member access them like watching TV programmes on TV sets or washing your hand by turning taps. Under the circumstance, people apply their own body parts to sense and touch the world. If house members adopt Wi-Fi to access Internet, their computers are not fixed in particular position. In the other words, computers “escape” from modems and telephones and are not their extensions any more. At the same time, computers or mobile devices have become the extensions of human body and they expand human beings’ sense and ability to create and explore the other world, cyberspace.

Wi-Fi machines create networks which appear their name on users’ computers. Names are important identifier and identity for their members and non-members. Wi-Fi networks are named by manufacturer or their owners, and the names could be applied to distinguish them from others. Under Wi-Fi network names, members know they can access Internet by these machines. The members know each other because Wi-Fi machines only can cover the short and limited ranges like house areas. On the other hand, Wi-Fi networks are another representation and metaphor of house. Because the connection of metaphor, Wi-Fi network names could be considered as intangible property of houses and they are like another kind of house names.

House names with other house’s tangible and intangible properties are applied by Claude Levi-Strauss to study kinship system in different societies, including American natives, European nobles and middle age Japanese societies. He led us a new road to analyse house for our kinship system beyond blood relationship and physical living space. House studies pointed out that house is the elementary unit where economical, political and religious activities happen. The interrelated activities shape house members as a special and identifiable group. Blood or biological connection is not the only reason to create kinship, people who are belonged to the same house names or live in under the same roof are also the important factor because many social and cultural activities are restricted to house members. With Wi-Fi networks are representations and metaphors of house, house studies evoke us to consider Wi-Fi machines in houses more cultural/social than technological effects. In our daily life, technology doesn’t influence us in one way, the users also shape and confirm members relationship by technology.

house studies are helpful and the key to understand the identity in Wi-Fi networks.

There are few studies to explore membership and kinship-like relationship in Wi-Fi, but we need

There are few studies to

Wi-Fi network names are similar with house names
Wi-Fi machines are one property of houses and

With their signal coverage, Wi-Fi machines also transform home houses to Wi-Fi access points.

From wire to wireless connections,

Because those devices are too ordinary and obvious to remind they are similar with Wi-Fi machines which are property and value of houses.

Ubiquitous Wi-Fi hotspots don’t only provide citizens convenient way to access Internet and Wi-Fi access but they also break the boundary between public and private. Wi-Fi users can access resource in Internet in cafés or train stations as they are at home. Wi-Fi access points and their locations/places are property and the access to Internet is value.

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