In this new series, Rhizome invites artists to explain the nuts and bolts of their work. Our first contribution comes from recent ITP graduate and Rhizome's dynamo former Technology Assistant Nick Hasty. Here, Hasty describes his project The EM Brace.
The EM Brace is a wearable device for physically engaging with electromagnetic radiation emitted by the consumer and communication technologies that constantly permeate our bodies. The device attunes the body to the presence of electromagnetic frequencies through amplifying these frequencies and turning them into powerful sound waves that vibrate the wearer.
The EM Brace consists of a metallic enclosure that is worn on the back (fig a) attached to a pair of antenna gloves that fit on the hands (fig b).
Extending from the metallic enclosure are four flexible metal arms which wrap around the ribcage. The enclosure and arms are secured to the body via four straps that connect at the chest (fig c) through a four point harness. Putting on and using the EM Brace has been described as a mix of being strapped into a roller-coaster, scuba diving, and getting a massage.
Since the majority of our interactions with electronic objects involve the use of the hands, the antennas that pick up ambient EM frequencies have been embedded within a pair of gloves. These antennas consist of four inductive coil antennas, specifically telephone pickup coils. When the antennas enter an electromagnetic field, an inductive voltage signal is created within the coil. The frequency of this signal is the same frequency as the electromagnetic field in which it's produced, so the antennas' signal directly corresponds to the electromagnetic frequencies of nearby electronic devices.
The signal created within the coil is then sent from the antennas into a preamplifier circuit located within the metallic enclosure (fig d ...