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Graffiti as Tactical Urban Wireless Network

A Utah-based startup company called Chamtech Operations is claiming that its Spray On Antenna Kit can turn any surface into a high-powered antenna.

As explained by Anthony Sutera in the video below of his presentation at Google's Solve for X event, “Our material uses thousands of nano-capacitors that we can spray paint on in the right pattern. All of these little capacitors charge and discharge extremely quickly in real time and they don't create any heat. When we hook up our material to a radio, the signal hops from capacitor to capacitor very quickly, finds its happy spot, and launches into space.”

Imagine painting wireless antennas on walls. Instead of planting them as fake trees or simply uncamouflaged, phone companies will blend their unsightly cell towers into the landscape. They could even commission artists like Haas & Hahn to turn the city as though fully draped with Joseph's Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, its prismatic striations perhaps paralleling the electromagnetic waves rippling through the walls before radiating out into space. Making visible the invisible, as it were.

Haas & Hahn

Alternatively, they could enlist children from local elementary schools to reconfigure the city's electromagnetic infrascape in exchange for very plump donations. Is that mural on that once seamy but now chromatically resplendent underpass depicting the neighborhood's tempestuous history and encouraging future, their parents will ask. Why yes, they'll answer back, and you can also bounce phone calls off of it.


Elsewhere, graffiti artists will independently fill in the dead zones. Or maybe not to patch up the network, but rather as part of a collaboration with sound artists to create a pop-up pirate radio station to broadcast an improvisational audio documentary of the local area. During times of protest, they could be used to burst through whatever electromagnetic kettling the security forces might be using to prevent the crowds from organizing and reaching critical mass. If there's no graffiti antenna nearby, just whip out a Spray On Antenna Kit to reclaim the public spectrum.

In any case, I'd like those “nut jobs” at DEMILIT given some of the stuff and see how they might use it in one of their sonic tours of military landscapes. Will they spray it on crumbling bunkers and derelict silos, thus repurposing them into antennas to transmit in real-time the acoustic ecology of war?

What might avant-gardeners, who presumably already know how to harness energy from trees, do with the stuff if they find out that you can also apply them to trees and turn them into arboreal arrays?

Spray On Antenna Kit
Spray On Antenna Kit

Trees broadcasting themselves singing. An entire national park airing an epic botanical opera. The Amazon sending messages to exoplanets.

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