Apr 14, 2011

Wi-Fi Markers – the Creation of Mini-Monoliths

Stone. Marble. Concrete. All solid, durable materials used to display public decrees and political messages conveying a sense of authority and power. Consider the Trajan column in Rome, erected to commemorate the Roman emperor’s victory. The craftsmanship of carefully carved letter forms, prominent placement in the city and the impermeable material all reinforce that this is an important message that will be unchanged for centuries.

These Wi-Fi markers challenge the cultural semiotics that suggest communications carefully placed in a permanent material such as concrete has significant value. In this case the message is relatively useless to the passerby. A listing of network names pulled from Wi-Fi signals in the area. Signal strengths are deliminated by pole hieght, the text is right justified and runs vertically up the post. Golden letters placed in concrete listing Wi-Fi networks that you may or may not be able to access.

Probably the only person these networks names might have any meaning for, is the owner. The creator of the network names may find it both interesting and disturbing to witness, what was previously assumed to be invisible, materialize in these mini-monoliths announcing the presence of their personal Wi-Fi networks.


The following images outline the story behind the creation of the Wi-Fi markers.


First all the letters where printed to size and cut out to create the template. Then each letter was “carved” out of the modelling clay. I had originally used a brown flour, while it may be more healthy it did not create the nice smooth texture that white flour allowed for.


This set of letters is ready to be baked. I cut out and baked close to 100 letters for this project, and not all of them made it through quality control.

Metallic spray paint applied to the baked white letters will give these a shiney metal look.

This builders tube typically used for pouring concrete columns will be used as the forms for the Wi-Fi markers.

The tube will first be cut lenght wise, and then the half circles will be cut to two different hieghts of 3′ and 2′. I started with a hand saw blade but needed to be finished sometime before the end of May.

I upgraded from a hand saw to a sawsall so I could cut the forms out a little quicker.

With the concrete poured and evenly spread there was no time to waste carefully placing the letters. The aggregate in the concrete made it a little difficult to have perfect kerning between the letters, it seemed there was always a pebble in the way that I had to wiggle around. It is getting quite dark at this point, and the laser beam looking device I am holding is actually a lantern.

Nothing left but the curing. Now I wait for it to stop raining, the next step will be to cross my fingers and hope that it doesn’t fall apart when I peel off the cardboard form.