Lori Napoleon

Spectral Transmission

Spectral Transmission uses visible light like radio; this is wireless communications you can see with your eyes and 'touch' with your hands.


Basic Analog Circuits,Project Development Studio (Danny Rozin)

i use light as a carrier wave for wireless audio transmission, culminating in an audio-visual installation where sound transmitted from many points of light is decoded by an array of optical receivers. in essence, we simultaneously see and hear information being transmitted though the air as we discover hidden messages in light. therefore, we are able to experience a typically invisible phenomenon - the passage of wireless information - directly and tangibly.

my goal is to create an environment which demonstrates characteristics of light that are normally taken for granted: its capability of being used as a transmission medium, and its relationship to other types of waves on the electromagnetic spectrum. wireless transmission is so ubiquitous in modern times, owing to the strides that technology has taken in understanding and utilizing the characteristics of the electromagnetic spectrum. by modulating light in the same way that radio waves are imbued with information (amplitude and frequency modulation) and providing electronic receivers with "light" antennas (lenses) analogous to the more familiar radio antennas, the physicality of how transmission of information really works becomes an experience both poetic and enlightening. to create an audio-visual experience where the light and sound are intrinsically, physically linked to each other: the source of the sound is the light itself.


User Scenario
user points one of three custom optical receivers at led transmitters that i have arranged rather high up on the wall (or attached to a pipe, rail, widow sill, etc.) and they hear the subsequent sound as it travels through the air. the leds dim and brighten to the intensity of the audio so you can infer the sounds just by looking at them. however each "talking" led transmitter has a different sound that can only be heard wirelessly through the telescope-like receiver. to simply block the lens of the receiver with your hand stops the sound and so the light as a carrier wave becomes a tangible instrument that can even be played - sounds mixed, combined, cut in and out - as an instrument. i also will have my laptop there and will generate and perform sounds for at least two of the talking leds live, to reference live broadcasting, by attaching max/msp to one of the led pods. i requested a midi keyboard so that the user can experience the satisfaction of "playing" the lights. i will provide a microphone for the user to transmit their voice if they choose.

Also, I requested a tripod so that one pair of transmitter/receivers stays put so that the user's hands can be free to cut in and out of the sound by blocking the path of light. Waving your hand in the light path creates a rhythmic vibrato effect, and further illustrates the point that this is a wireless transmission using visible light as a carrier wave.

6 led clusters with custom pwm "radio" circuitry transmitters and audio inputs; 3 optical receivers of different lens sizes and small speakers attached that can all fit in people's hands that they use to point at the leds to hear the sound transmissions. The led pods are small and will be hung above the audience; two receivers will be on the pedastal and demo'd by myself and the users; the third receiver will be on a tripod pointing at a light and not move.