Ars Electronica 2006
Festival-Website 2006
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Festival 1979-2007


Silver Cell

'Aram Bartholl Aram Bartholl

The Silver Cell cell phone carrying case works like a Faraday cage. A cell phone placed inside this case can neither transmit nor receive; it is totally shielded. The material it’s made of, a completely silver-coated polyamide fabric, remains transparent, so a modern cell phone’s display can be read through it.

Most cell phone users are unaware of the fact that their devices regularly send location-related data to the service provider. This carrying case makes it possible to evade any such positioning or tracking, something that even shutting off the cell phone itself cannot always guarantee. The user’s own personal dead-zone assures that he/she leaves behind absolutely no trace in any spatial data model.

In order to illustrate how this works, there’ll be a product demonstration in a public space. The radio cell of the cellular network in which the demo cell phone is located (i.e. the zone surrounding the demo site) will be temporarily marked. The omnipresent, invisible web of radio cells will thus be made visible. Depending on population density and concentration of users in a particular area, the size of such a radio cell can vary from a few hundred square meters in cities to several square kilometers in rural regions.

This project spotlights cell phones’ location-related data exchange activities by passively interrupting them. A simple carrying case is capable of disabling a highly complex piece of mobile telecommunications equipment.

Translated from German by Mel Greenwald