Seeing the Spectrum

Mathew Sayer From our Perspective

Look around you. Walls, floors, computers, mugs, people. It’s all confined to a particular spectrum, good old visible light. But what about the rest of the spectrum? This post on Quora proposes a thought experiment where the visible colors (the rainbow) on the spectrum are stretched to cover the entire gray bar you see below.


Although adamant that this is impossible Inna Vishik describes the new total coverage as looking like this:

  • Everyone would be the same color (except for people with a fever) (infrared–>yellowish).  Also, you would be able to tell the temperature of an object just by looking at it.
  • You would always be able to tell if a place had good wifi or cell phone reception (low GHz->orange)
  • You could look out the window and know if you *really* should wear sunscreen today (UV->Green)
  • You wouldn’t see a lot of blue and purple, other than from man-made sources because the atmosphere is opaque to gamma rays, x-rays, and most UV light.  The atmosphere also has opacity (with some windows) at the IR-microwave and radio frequencies, but there are plenty of those wavelengths on earth.

Allen Steinhardt, formerly at DARPA, added that we would be able to see at night because of all the communications satellites, radio and TV stations broadcasting “light.” So far, so sci-fi.

Over at The Creators Project Nickolay Lamm has created visualizations of wi-fi signals if they were visible to the human eye.

That wi-fi smog... Buy vpn though.

That wi-fi smog…

Austrian artist Peter Jellitsch has also utilized the invisible parts of the spectrum in his work Bleecker Street Documents which channels all the frustration of having crappy wi-fi into a sculpture.

"An error occurred. please try again later" *router-hits-wall* buy vpn

“An error occurred. please try again later” *router-hits-wall*

Built out of hundreds of handwritten data points (well the wifi was down) Jellitsch set to work raising the vertices of the sculpture according to the strength of the signal.

Richard Vijgen has created Architecture of Radio. A semi-augmented reality app that visualizes the fields of cell phone towers, wifi signals and satellites around you.

"Pew..pew. Wait. What am I looking at?" buy vpn

“Pew..pew. Wait. What am I looking at?”

Every time we use our phones, tablets or laptops we are entering an invisible world of wireless digital signals. It is a world that we cannot see but that is literally all around us.

Richard Vijgen

Like the previous posts, the app is purely for artistic purposes- although admittedly some hack must be waiting? Many reviews state that it does nothing, but it does it beautifully.

What all these different visualizations and interactions serve is the human need to get out of our heads. We’re blessed, some of us anyway, with self-awareness and in an age of new technology (sound the klaxon) we are interacting with it from different angles. So wipe the smug look off your face, art matters too and it makes pretty things.

Using your powers of surveillance know-aboutery these apps and visualizations are showing us the prisons we sit in on part a different spectrum. If you’re within reach of these weird matrix-lattice waves, then you’re within range of the surveillance apparatus. Better get a VPN then.

LiquidVPN keep no logs, have dozens of server locations and thousands of satisfied customers. Prices start from $7 a month, and there’s a one-week money back guarantee- how’d you like those apples?