Signal Space


Signal Space is a collection of projects initiated in 2002, which addressed the intersection of environments and communication technology (both digital and non-digital). Initial work in this area focused on satellites and environmental monitoring, informational cities, wireless and atmospheric modes of communication, and leaflet drops.

Moving from a focus on the environmental distribution, materiality and capacities of communication technologies, Signal Space research and practice soon developed into a concern with the environmental effects of these technologies, specifically in relation to electronic waste. Work carried out through the Signal Space topic area has then given rise to research undertaken for Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics and related electronic waste publications.

Signal Space early investigations have also contributed to the formation of a current concentrated research area on environmental sensing, including text currently underway, Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet, and the research project, “Citizen Sense.”


Selected projects that developed within the Signal Space area of environments and communication technology include:

Telepathically Urban,” in Circulation and the City: Essays on Urban Culture, eds. Alexandra Boutros and Will Straw (Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2010), 48-63

Atmospheres of Communication,” in The Wireless Spectrum: The Politics, Practices and Poetics of Mobile Technologies, eds. Barbara Crow, Michael Longford and Kim Sawchuk (University of Toronto Press, 2010), 46-59

Automatic Sensation: Environmental Sensors in the Digital City,” in “Senses and the City,” special edition of The Senses and Society, eds. Mags Adams and Simon Guy, vol. 2, no. 2 (July 2007), 189-200

The Quick and the Dirty: Ephemeral Systems in Silicon Valley,” in “Ephemera,” Thresholds, Issue No. 31 (Cambridge: MIT Department of Architecture, 2006), 26-31

Paper Mountains, Disposable Cities,” in “Refuse Report,” Surface Tension, supplement no. 1, eds. Brandon Labelle and Ken Ehrlich (Los Angeles: Errant Bodies Press, 2006), 130-139

Appliance Theory,” in “Electricity,” Cabinet Magazine, issue 21,(Brooklyn, NY: Immaterial Incorporated, 2006), 82-86

Machines Fall Apart: Failure in Art and Technology,” in “Re:Searching Our Origins: Critical and Archival Histories of the Electronic Arts,” special edition of Leonardo Electronic Almanac, eds. Catherine Mason and Paul Brown, vol. 13, no. 4 (Cambridge: MIT Press, April 2005)

Residue in the E.A.T. Archives,” online essay, The Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science and Technology, Centre for Research and Documentation (Montreal, 2004)

Airdrop, Chapbook No. 1 (London: Bookworks, 2004), 40 pgs

Leaflet Drop: The Paper Landscapes of War,” in “Casting Doubt,” Invisible Culture, issue 7 (University of Rochester, Winter 2004)

Noise and Contamination in the Information City,” in Visual Knowledges Conference Proceedings, ed. John Frow (Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, 2003)

Glovebox Gardens,” Jardins Virtuel, New Media Group Show, Studio XX, Montréal (2002)

The Television in the Garden,” in “Transit,” Loud Paper, vol. 4, no. 1 (Berkeley, CA, 2002), 10-13