Sound installation which sonifies WiFi signals through the gallery walls.

Opened weekends 9–25 March 2018 at arc·hive artist run centre (Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ territories, Victoria, BC).

802.11 installed at arc·hive

802.11 constructs a living architecture of sound by fusing the existing physical and electromagnetic structures of its host space. Using techniques developed for network penetration testing, 802.11 transforms environmental WiFi traffic into an immersive soundscape. By revealing the unseen signals traversing the wireless ethernet, Riedstra’s installation offers a new way to explore and consider the omnipresent materials of our digital lives.

802.11, 2016–18
sound installation: Raspberry Pis, wireless network adapters, transducers
software: Raspbian, Python, Pure Data

Wireless signals such as Bluetooth and WiFi propagate in three dimensions through the electromagnetic field, creating a topography with features both static (networks) and dynamic (wireless devices). The installation 802.11 captures wireless data travelling through this field and renders it as sound. By channelling this sound through the gallery walls, 802.11 maps the unseen electromagnetic environment onto the space’s physical architecture.

IEEE 802.11 is a specification which prescribes the behaviour of devices interacting with WiFi networks. Following this behaviour, WiFi interfaces engage with the electromagnetic field semi-autonomously: base stations (routers) continually broadcast their presence and probe the network for other devices, clients (wireless devices) associate, re-associate, handshake transactions, and report micro-interactions over the internet.

802.11 is open at arc·hive artist run centre (2516 Bridge St.) weekend afternoons 9–25 March 2018. Opening reception 9 March 7–9 PM.

arc·hive is located on the unceded territories of the Lekwungen speaking Esquimalt, Songhees, and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples of the Coast Salish Nation.

More Information

retrieved 4 March 2018

Wi-Fi or WiFi (/ˈwaɪfaɪ/) is a technology for wireless local area networking with devices based on the IEEE 802.11 standards.


Energy from RF currents in conductors can radiate into space as electromagnetic waves (radio waves). This is the basis of radio technology.


Wi-Fi positioning system (WPS) or WiPS/WFPS is used where GPS and GLONASS are inadequate […] Such systems include indoor positioning systems. […]

RSSI localization techniques are based on measuring signal strength from a client device to several different access points, and then combining this information with a propagation model to determine the distance between the client device and the access points.


A media access control address (MAC address) of a device is a unique identifier assigned to network interface controllers for communications at the data link layer of a network segment. […]

MAC addresses are most often assigned by the manufacturer of a network interface controller (NIC) and are stored in its hardware […]


Monitor mode, or RFMON (Radio Frequency MONitor) mode, allows a computer with a wireless network interface controller (WNIC) to monitor all traffic received from the wireless network. Unlike promiscuous mode, which is also used for packet sniffing, monitor mode allows packets to be captured without having to associate with an access point or ad hoc network first. Monitor mode is one of the eight modes that 802.11 wireless cards can operate in […]


IEEE 802.11 is a set of media access control (MAC) and physical layer (PHY) specifications for implementing wireless local area network (WLAN) computer communication in the 900 MHz and 2.4, 3.6, 5, and 60 GHz frequency bands. […]

The datagrams are called frames. Current 802.11 standards specify frame types for use in transmission of data as well as management and control of wireless links. […]

Frames are divided into very specific and standardized sections. Each frame consists of a MAC header, payload, and frame check sequence (FCS). Some frames may not have a payload. […]

An 802.11 frame can have up to four address fields. Each field can carry a MAC address. Address 1 is the receiver, Address 2 is the transmitter, Address 3 is used for filtering purposes by the receiver.

Management frames

Management frames are not always authenticated, and allow for the maintenance, or discontinuance, of communication. […]

Control frames

Control frames facilitate in the exchange of data frames between stations. […]

Data frames

Data frames carry packets from web pages, files, etc. within the body.