THE VISUAL SPECTRUM
Julian Priest

The Visual Spectrum presents context for 'The Political Spectrum' piece in the exhibition.

Visual representations of the electro-magnetic spectrum often take the form of a spectrograph - a long thin strip marked with bands of frequencies. This image is formed in the physics laboratory by shining visible light through a prism or diffraction grating and shows bands of emission and absorption of light by different elements. The electro-magnetic spectrum diagram extrapolates this form into the non-visible frequencies.

Spectrum managers use a version of the spectrograph called a frequency allocation table to show the use of radio frequencies by a social group. The table simultaneously makes a visual claim to a natural, physical order and presents a map of 'The Spectrum' as a territory that can be divided and ruled. The information displayed however shows a social document of the names of all social groups that have won rights to emit and absorb communications over the course of the last century or so.

How does the table relate to a vision of the electromagnetic spectrum as the space of all possible information interactions and what can we learn about the changing political processes that formed it by exploring alternative visualizations?

Julian Priest (UK/Denmark) develops independent solo and collaborative projects in the overlaps and gaps between the fields of art, development, policy, research activism and technology often focusing on social aspects.
Recent projects include: Joindot - a collaborative artwork based on the children's classic; Join the dots (http://joindot.org); WSFII - "The World Summits on Free Information Infrastructures" (http://wsfii.org); Open Spectrum UK - a policy intervention in support of an open spectrum (http://openspectrum.org.uk); The State of Wireless London - a research piece on wireless networking in London (http://informal.org.uk); Picopeering Agreement - a network sharing agreement for free networkers (http://picopeer.net); Playing Card Based Routing Protocols - a messaging network based on playing cards (http://informal.org.uk); Wireless Roadshow - training and capacity building for community wireless in the developing world (http://thewirelessroadshow.org); Informal - a framework for collaborative research (http://informal.org.uk); Consume.net - the UK's first free wireless network community (http://consume.net)

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