VERY LOW FREQUENCY FIREPLACE
2010|Wooden table, VLF antenna and receiver, electronics, sound and light.
In collaboration with Brian D. McKenna.
Commissioned by Moon Life Concept Store - an exhibition of prototypes and ideas for life on the Moon. Supported by Fonds BKVB - Amsterdam.
The installation consists of an antenna and a small table containing a Very Low Frequency (VLF) radio receiver, a loudspeaker, and light emitting diodes (LEDs). VLF radio waves are received and transformed into sound, which is used to modulate the LEDs.
The sound of VLF radio waves, or "Natural-Radio" as it is generally called, contains a continuous crackle: the result of lighting activity around the Earth as reflected off the ionosphere. This sound, much like the sound of a crackling of a fire, made visible by flickering LEDs, forms the synesthetic illusion of a common fireplace.
Very Low Frequency Fireplace is a fireplace which humans can take to the Moon, where there is no atmosphere, and where human life is contained within a highly controlled space, in a completely manufactured and sealed environment, where our natural habitat becomes more remote than ever before.
The installation evokes the deeply embedded and ancient human memory of the fireplace with all its symbolic, ritualistic, and contemplative powers. At the same time it opens up and listens to the new environment, harvesting radio waves of the universe. The omnipresent radio-noise thus becomes familiar and stays new at the same moment, suggesting a model for establishing an intuitive notion of home in a situation where the familiar and the unknown negotiate a new existential reality.