What is the Hyper Drone?
The HyperDrone is an instrument that generates acoustic waves taken from the data generated by seismic sensors across the surface of the entire globe. The data here is supplied by the Atomic Weapons Establishment Blacknest, Reading UK, which is part of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) which monitors the ground for nuclear scale explosions. This data is now contributing to other systems, such as early warning earthquake and tsunami alerts data.
The entire network acts as a ‘hyper’ object, that is, a form which is too large (in scale of space/time etc), or too small in scale (of visibility etc), to be perceived by humans without the use of scientific systems. This network was created for the purposes of maintaining peace through an International Treaty which bans nuclear weapons development and testing, and is an example of what can be achieved through cooperation, even if the positive contributions it now makes to seismic monitoring of natural events are a side effect of its true intention.
How does it work?
Data from a range of seismic stations is available as open source information. This data has been processed through Super Collider by composer, programmer and artist Anna Troisi and is arranged to be played back to generate resonance – a hyper ‘drone’ through the radome panel itself. The panel has been developed to work with a resonating geometric ‘tensegrity’ structure which was designed and made from aluminium and steel by Rob Smith during his artist residency at Wysing, where the Hyper Drone is currently located.
Background and Future
The project was conceived by Neal White of Office of Experiments and developed with Rob Smith and Anna Troisi.
The project extends research undertaken into the global techno-scientific sites, from labs to observatories that support advances in human development; experimentation, scientific instruments, supercomputing advances etc. Using the deep geometry of data, the abstractions of science and other forms of human interpretations of the natural world, a scientific belief system, the work challenges the viewer to consider their own scale and sense of place in relation to unfolding ‘hyper’ events and their ability now and in the future, to understand events such as climate change – events beyond their own temporal register or senses.
Aesthetically speaking, the HyperDrone draws on minimalism and the geometric language of modernism, from Buckminster Fuller to Donald Judd. It reworks the spiritual dimensions of modern experimental sound through the use of audio drones citing the works La Monte Young and John Cage, among others. Conceptually, it intends to keep to no specific language, historic, relational or systemic. However, it is materially and technologically de-centred from its own site and place and in this respect draws from the work of artists concerned with an expanded field of sculpture,such as Robert Smithson, Mary Miss and Richard Long. Thinking of what might happen next experimentally, we are considering the incidental role of artist in the trajectory of science, using art to question the rational thinking of scientists and instead to place temporality, resonance and time in the frame.
This experiment is potentially only one node of a massive scale sensing artwork. The project has therefore been conceived as modular and scalable, and we are exploring the potential for creating multiple nodes. In this scenario, the aim would be to work with artists, architectural, scientific or social groups so we are able to construct hyper drones together as a way of discussing issues in relation to human perception of time, scale and event.
History and Thanks
The Radome Panel was part of a golf ball shaped sphere used to cover military and industrial satellite dishes and radar – used to trace or work with near earth objects such as planes, GPS satellites etc. It was acquired for Steve Rowell (Member of Office of Experiments, 2010- ) for the project ‘Ultimate High Ground’, which was part of ‘Dark Places’, curated by Office of Experiments at John Hansard Gallery with Arts Catalyst and SCAN in 2009. The experiment has been developed so far with thanks to Wysing, Cambridgeshire UK and the Experimental Media Research Group at Bournemouth University.