einar sneve martinussen demonstrating the measuring rod all images © timo arnall

timo arnall, jørn knutsen, and einar sneve martinussen have built a measuring rod for visualizing the immaterial wifi networks in cities. based on the idea of a surveyor creating maps, the trio’s work creates an abstracted cross section of the invisible networks and landscapes that are an integral part to how today’s cities function.

the 4m tall rod has 80 leds running the entire length that pulse and raise based on the strength of a selected wifi network. through time-lapse photography and three weeks in the grünerløkka area of oslo, norway, the pulsing lights create a physical representation of how different types of networks behave in their specific environments. the digital qualities we think of as network strength, consistency, and reach are shown as material manifestations reflecting the homes, businesses, and parks that the network is set up to serve.

the trio hopes to expand the research of these invisible landscapes to better understand our urban existence through other more widespread technologies including 3G, GSM and radio. martinussen is currently writing a book discussing how the interwoven nature of digital structures and physical environments directly effect people’s experiences on a material level.

immaterials: light painting wifi from timo on vimeo

immaterials: light painting wifi by timo arnall + jorn knutsen + einar sneve martinussen

immaterials: light painting wifi by timo arnall + jorn knutsen + einar sneve martinussen

immaterials: light painting wifi by timo arnall + jorn knutsen + einar sneve martinussen

immaterials: light painting wifi by timo arnall + jorn knutsen + einar sneve martinussen

immaterials: light painting wifi by timo arnall + jorn knutsen + einar sneve martinussen detail of building the device

more images of light painting and details of their process on arnall’s flickr photostream. more info on their thoughts and theories behind this work at yourban