Our relationship and perception of mobile devices would evolve if we could suddenly hear the radio frequencies they emit and receive while managing our communications: text messages, voice notes, emails, photographs, tweets, etc. Mobile phones are ubiquitous, and the sensorial ability to hear them communicate on behalf of their users would change our perception of experiences and situations in public places given that many people use their devices regularly in their daily lives.
The Ghost Frequencies Torch exposes these radio frequencies emitted and received by networked mobile devices and translates them into audible sound. A circuit built into the flashlight makes this possible.
I built the Ghost Frequencies Torch for the Fluid States – Fluid Sounds Conference, held in Copenhagen from June 18-June 21. Using the torch and a standard audio recorder I recorded a series of sound walk recordings on the beach, on the metro, and in other public settings, mixing ghost frequencies and the sounds of urban life. These recordings reveal the limitations of human perception, and the layers of sensory experience that remain beyond the reach of our natural bodily senses.
For my live performance at the conference I played three mobile phones by sending SMS messages, passing files between the devices over Bluetooth, and browsing the internet.
What you hear in this video are the ghost frequencies that constantly surround us. The very regular beat pulse is from the nearby WiFi router.
I played the Ghost Frequencies Torch (with two of my mobile phones transmitting and receiving data) during a recent recording session, accompanied by Bryan Day and Dan Ake on their homemade instruments.