Proposal: Free Public Wi-Fi


Filed under: archived, konst&teknik, proposal, freewifi

Originally published on March 26th 2014 at the Konst & Teknik blog

‘Free Public Wi-Fi’ is a project proposal we have been pitching to a few different institutions in Sweden on and off over the last couple of years. As the last discussion recently fell through, we decided to instead post (a slightly modified version of) the proposal here. We would love to see this happen in collaboration with a forward thinking institution, kunsthalle, or maybe makerspace, preferably one with a café and an open Wi-Fi network that people use on a daily basis. Interested in talking about this more?

We see the free, public wireless Internet connections available inside many cultural institutions cafés as valuable and well-used resources for its public and local community. While the content of network names and passwords are often visible and utilized in daily life via our laptops and smartphones they are rarely thought of as anything more than transient information. Utilizing the existing Wi-Fi signals we propose to mobalize it as an artistic context in and of itself.

Precisely because a Wi-Fi network name is not where you would expect to experience meaning or a work of art, it is a place where an interesting and unexpected encounter can occur. We believe that technology engaged inside the context of the art institution can allow these kinds of public ‘spaces’ to be considered in a new way. Building upon and drawing attention to an institutions’ existing Internet infrastructure, the project would invite artists to create and exhibit a work for this particular context.

5–10 wireless Wi-Fi routers inside an institution will each send out a signal that anyone can see when trying to access the Internet on a laptop or smartphone. The artists would then utilize these 5–10 lines of text in the form of network names and passwords as the medium for their work, bound by its existing the technical and textual limitations.

One new artwork every month, will be coordinated by Konst & Teknik, and installed inside the space. Konst & Teknik will additionally create a wall guide for the work, explaining its basic concept and crediting each artist. This guide will exist as a template and can be easily updated and reinstalled each month by the cafe staff as the artwork, network names, and free Wi-Fi password changes.