Tempest for Eliza by Erik Thiele
What is it ? ------------ Tempest for Eliza is a Program that uses your computer monitor to send out AM radio signals. You can then hear computer generated music in your radio. this document first describes tempest for eliza, the old program that plays music like your cellphone does when you get a phonecall. [...]
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Tempest for Eliza

"TEMPEST (Telecommunications Electronics Material Protected from Emanating Spurious Transmissions) was the name of a classified (secret) U.S. government project to study (probably for the purpose of both exploiting and guarding against) the susceptibility of some computer and telecommunications devices to emit electromagnetic radiation (EMR) in a manner that can be used to reconstruct intelligible data" (searchSecurity.com). In other words, the ability to spy on people at a distance and see what they are doing on their computers.
Tempest exists as myth, conspiracy theory and anti-authoritarian hype. As with aliens, many people are sure they exist, though there is no credible proof to support such a claim.
Tempest for Eliza presents this myth in a playful, artistic way; rather than spying it broadcasts music, using the computer monitor as a radio transmitter. In the case of this project, it is interesting to see how an existing cultural phenomenon gives birth to an artistic project only formally related to its parent. Instead of surveillance issues Tempest for Eliza foregrounds issues related to the creative misuse of technology, it celebrates emancipation from technological dictatorship. Imagine if somebody developed this project further and amplified the monitor-generated AM radio signal with a mop or electric kettle: a DIY low cost radio station is ready! And that, in turn, could evoke some unexpected social changes!

by Alexei Shulgin, posted 06 Jun 2003


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