The Kandos Digital Embassy work ran as part of the Cementa 2015 program. Its goal was to unilaterally lay claim to the entire rural town of Kandos, NSW through the colonisation of it’s airspace (read: the 2.4Ghz range of it).
Using a network of strategically placed, purpose-built pirate WiFi access points (based on the Raspberry Pi credit-card sized computer) Kandos was covered for the duration of the festival by an open WiFi network listed as “KandosDigitalEmbassy”. The network provided free internet connection for email and navigation, but redirected all web access to the website of the “Kandos Autonomous Digital Territories”. This website gave diplomatic information and a potted history of the Territories’ foundation, as well as live data visualisation and webcam imagery.
In parallel with the dozen or so lunch-box sized WiFi access points plugged in at various locations in Kandos, the artist installed a data-collecting ‘base-station’ on the peak of the overlooking mountain. This base-station provided a video feed of the town from its vantage point, as well as recording air-quality data. The video and air data was streamed on the Kandos Digital Embassy website accessible from in the town. Positioning and installation of the base-stations was done in consultation with Stephen Wills, an air-quality monitoring expert associated with the EPA. Due to the remote placement of these base-station, it was powered via a 100w solar panel and deep-cycle battery, and relayed data over the 2km distance back to town via line-of-sight 5Ghz radio.
As well as providing data, this base-station acted as an ambiguously Orwellian looming materialisation of the Kandos Autonomous Digital Territories; featuring a constantly flashing aircraft safety light that was visible from anywhere in town.
The work explored a number of ideas specific to the site, more generally resonant with rural Australia, and wider contemporary culture, namely: