Pretty Fly For A Wifi revisits the histories, origins and uses of self-made Wi-fi antennas. The project was about rebuilding, testing and documenting these folkloric parts of network infrastructure. The designs for these antennas are based on DIY instructions that once lived on home pages and which are now only partially preserved through the Internet Archive. These antennas serve as an interesting point of departure to talk about the internet’s infrastructure and how day-to-day users could potentially influence its shape.
Shortly after the commercial introduction of WI-FI equipment the idea of community wireless networks emerged. These grassroots organizations use WI-FI to build alternative network infrastructures, often on a peer to peer basis and without the need for costly wires. Such network infrastructures can be found on rooftops, balconies and windowsills and can cover large distances by broadcasting from building to building. Wireless community networks serve a variety of purposes, sometimes to provide broadband connections where there are none, to make censorship free alternatives to the internet or to share the costs of a single internet connection. All these networks use cheap and readily available consumer electronics and are thus limited to a range of around 30 meters. To increase their range, these networks often rely on self-made antennas to make more distant connections possible. With the use of self-made antennas people have able to connect machines that are tens of kilometers apart.
Through these self-made antennas, people from around the world have given shape to computer networks that reflect their personal ideals. With a wavelength of around 12 centimeters, antennas for 2.4Ghz WI-FI have dimensions that are literally handy. As a consequence, these antennas are both clever appropriations and accidental convergences of the shapes and sizes of household objects that happen to accommodate the size of the 2.4Ghz radio wave.
Pretty Fly Zine
The project took the form of a self-published zine that documented different models of antennae and discussed their working, origin and context. In addition the zine features beautiful line drawings by Lídia Pereira.
Next to the zine the actual recreated antennae have also been exhibited.
Pretty Fly has been exibited at:
- TENT, Rotterdam 2014
- V2, Rotterdam 2014
- Nieuwe Vide, Haarlem 2016
- NeON Digital Arts, Dundee 2017
- MU, Eindhoven 2017
Howerver, I stopped exhibiting Pretty Fly because exhibitions pay miserably and are a lot of work.