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Colourful Wi-Fi Network

By: Jung-Hua Liu

This blog will show London, New York, Chicago, Taipei and Hong Kong Wi-Fi landscapes by decoding Wi-Fi BSSID code then encoding html colour codes. Wi-Fi is popular in cities around the world and it provides a invisible territorial Internet connection in contrast to network cables and spaceless 3G connection on mobile phone. This project aims to depict urban Wi-Fi landscape to explore the links among technology, culture and globalization.

click to expand/collapse 

# 37 [23 January 2012] These works are the homage to Paul Sharits- Ray Gun Virus and light show performers

# 36 [24 September 2011]


From my experience in anthropology studies, I have found shortcomings and restrictions in this methodology. Anthropologists obtain abundant information by staying at particular spots for long periods to investigate and study the daily life of natives as living biographies. Under those conditions, anthropologists are passive receivers and interpreters. The text is full of native terms creating an exotic atmosphere, and every culture seems different from other cultures. The result is that every culture is seen as independent, with a difficult-to-compare existence, and hence cross-cultural studies become a battlefield of vocabulary without holistic viewpoints. In contrast, I wanted to reverse this method of study to create a specific way to conduct cross-cultural researches. This shift is different from traditional anthropology, so I needed support from different disciplines to achieve my goal. At the same time, I found that contemporary art offered me a possible way to develop my experiment.




Grids and layers were applied by Josef Albers and Richard Paul Lohse to study the interaction between colours and to transform 3-D to 2-D, similar to the way archaeologists and anthropologists position objects in the field and convert their fields to text. After the work of these pioneers, grids and layers were widely adopted in the minimal and conceptual art movements. I referred to the works of different artists and adopted colours (layers) and grids as my tools to create a hybrid of time and space as my study subject.




My doctoral project involved visualizing Wi-Fi networks in London, Taipei, New York, Chicago, and Hong Kong to explore how individual networks construct urban landscapes and their identities. According to Le Corbusier, houses are machines in which we live. I reversed his idea, assigning Wi-Fi users as cyborgs (cybernetic organisms) living in Wi-Fi houses. Then I applied the house society theory to visualise Wi-Fi access points as houses with colours and grids to construct 3-D-based 2-D landscapes. Colours were translated from unique Wi-Fi machine codes that represented individual Wi-Fi machines. The codes could also be tracked to the manufacturer, so the colours also offered a connection between individuals and capitalism. This work presents the different aspects of Wi-Fi machines as a house metaphor in their respective societies and extended anthropology to study material culture and human activity via multiple ways to reveal the connection between them.



# 35 [24 September 2011]

The focus of my research is the interaction between material culture and human activity.


I had several opportunities to participate in archaeological fieldwork when I was an undergraduate student. I was fascinated by the archaeologists who created a study subject based on a hybrid of time and space by digging at various sites, and locating and categorizing the remains using horizontal grids and vertical layers via a soil color chart. Although the archaeologists focused on the analysis of the remains found, without regard to the visual aspect of the archaeological discovery progress, their grids and layers system made a great impression on me.



Based on the kinship courses I have taken, I learned about the house society theory proposed by Claude Levi-Strauss. Levi-Strauss led us to rethink how a house as a material culture helps anthropologists to explore the visible and invisible relationships and activities in societies. For my B.A. thesis, I attempted to analyze the phenomena of multiple figures of one Mazu goddess in Taiwanese Mazu folk religions utilizing the house concept. I replaced temples for houses and used incense burners as the medium for figures sharing body substances. This attempt aimed to present the connection between identity and objects via “temples as houses” to understand how believers perceived the relations between Mazu figures. At the same time, for my NSC project, I continued to develop a house study via the study of international spouses living in rural villages. In that project, I noticed that sharing food and kinship duties were the main keys to converting foreign spouses to members in the family and house. During this period, I was training myself to think broader, beyond the kinship aspect of the house society theory.




To expand my knowledge and abilities for my postgraduate study with interdisciplinary collaboration, I enrolled in psychological linguistics courses in a graduate institute of linguistics to explore the connection between external presentation and internal logic. The Conceptual Metaphor Theory, proposed by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, is a key concept that I learned from the courses in that it links objects under different categories via breaking the boundaries using the mapping principle. The mapping principle is a rule which connects the Target Domain (the idea or concept that is described) to the Source Domain (the object applied to describe the Target Domain). The Target Domain and the Source Domain are separated into different categories, so linguistics looks for attributes that are shared by both to understand the mapping principle. In anthropology, categorization is an important system in which the natives distinguish themselves from others, such as in Huang Ying-Kuei’s study concerning the Bunun’s food categorization system. The Conceptual Metaphor Theory aids in analyzing categorization and understanding how conceptual metaphors help natives configure information about the boundary between themselves and others. The house theory is similar to the Conceptual Metaphor Theory, since people construct their identities based on food sharing and living in the same house. In my subsequent studies, the Conceptual Metaphor Theory was a fundamental method in discovering the connection between houses and other objects in societies. 




My M.A. thesis focused on the construction of identities via house-related material cultures. I integrated my previous studies with the Conceptual Metaphor Theory and created an archaeology project investigating a Paiwanese village and their abandoned settlement. I applied cultural layers to describe the migration of the tribes and the grids to locate their objects (i.e., house, tomb, and settlement), which were connected by the Conceptual Metaphor Theory. Although the building sources had changed and the duration of the settlement was short because of multiple forced migrations, houses became the Source Domain for the identity metaphor. The reason houses became an abstract concept is the accumulation of migration stories about houses and their eventual separation from their tombs, where ancestors ceased living with the living physically and hence conceptually.



# 34 [3 July 2011]

The sound of Taiwan summer

The sound of Tawan summer through grids of the window

# 33 [27 June 2011]


Most people think the identifier codes of Wi-Fi access points and their distribution are random, but actually they involved with the complicated human behaviours, business modes and urban plans. To depict the phenomena, we should know the composition of Wi-Fi identifier codes(aka MAC address or BSSID). The identifier codes are 12 digits of hexadecimal codes and the first six code is manufacture codes, such as some BTHomeHub access points' manufacturer code is 00147f and it means 'Thomson Telecom Belgium' and the manufacturer code of BT Fusion is 001495 which represents 2Wire, Inc.  The last 6 digits are the serial number in the factories. Above all, you can find the codes give us the information about the atlas of Wi-Fi manufacturers in different branches of Wi-Fi market and the business modes constitute of part of Wi-Fi landscapes.

# 32 [26 June 2011]

For remembering the workers for this tunnel

# 31 [25 June 2011]

borrowing Giovanni Coperario's 17th books "Rules how to compose" from the library and it is so interesting to know the rules. I never know there are rules to "view" the notes in the scores.

# 30 [24 June 2011]

Body and duration in digital art are less important than fine art. In fine art, artists used their bodies to create their works in a specific time duration, such as paintings, sculpture or performance art. Digital artists aim to applied machines to produce their works  and play the works in a time-specific duration. I tried to bridge the gap via converting the body as a cyborg and move between Wi-Fi networks to perform the concept of moving in the cyberspace and record the movement via my electronic devices to create the visualising Wi-Fi networks as the painters painted what they saw. The different mediums between fine art and digital art should not become the barrier between them, and the combination could help artists to explore the world deeply and widely.  

# 29 [23 June 2011]

Claude Levi-Strauss (1983) considered the house as a social unit after reviewing the confusion of kinship in Franz Boas's study on North American native Kwakiutl. Boas wanted to found the basic social unit according to traditional anthropological terminology, but he failed to locate 'lineage' and 'clan' in Kwakiutl society. He found a native term 'numaym' which involve with the kinship and society and it doesn't fit any traditional categories. Levi-Strauss figured out 'numaym' is house which is comprised of house names, decoration, tangible wealth and blood relationship. The kinship in houses is dynamic with the political and economical activities through the physical and invisible house objects. He coined 'house societies' for this type of societies. His findings inspired the following anthropologists to study the kinship via the process of becoming kinship not being kin.

Modern Houses are not only homes but also a living machine as Le Corbusier mentioned in 1923,

The machine that we live in is an old coach full of tuberculosis. There is no real link between our daily activities at the factory, the office or the bank, which are healthy and useful and productive, and our activities in the bosom of the family which are handicapped at every turn.

Before Le Corbusier, houses are like artcraft, but he was fascinated with machines and factories and aimed to convert houses to machines. He wanted to change the world via creating houses as mass-production and brought the traditional world to the new order. Although his goal were not achieved but lead us to think what impact of technology affect the concept of houses.

Although Arjun Appadurai didn't mention house societies directly, his global landscape analysis represented media and buildings which are constructed by the modern technology but organized as different ethnoscapes in the global cities. Houses are the popular buildings full of special decorations in modern societies as Le Corbusier’s ‘living machine’ which are shaped by specific ethnic groups as Levi-Strauss pointed out. He emphasized modern societies are not “tightly territorialized, spatially bounded, historical unselfconscious, or culturally homogeneous” which are similar to house societies in kinship study. House is beyond a territorially bound and cultural homogeneous unit because its members come from different houses and houses are adopted as an identifier by members to locate themselves in social networks and offer people the freedom to go out the physical house to participate the daily life.

Inspired by the previous studies, this paper takes Wi-Fi access points as houses in the modern societies and presents them as living machines via the repetitive grids which were applied in modern houses widely and artists used them to construct relational and rational artworks to construct the world in their ways, such as Donald Judd, Richard Paul Lohse and Josef Albers. Their works escaped from the representational social phenomena but produced new ways to view their world and this is important for this paper to connect Wi-Fi access points to houses with the artistic ways to display the new perspective to the wireless networks.

# 28 [20 June 2011]

一般印刷資料c2003Situating El Lissitzky : Vitebsk, Berlin, Moscow / edited by Nancy Perloff and Brian Reed可流通 -  總圖2F密集書庫 -  N6999.L5 S57 2003  -  加至書車  更多資訊動態放映資料El Lissitzky [videorecording] : constructivist of the Russian Avant-Garde / Director/scenario, Leo Lorez限中心內使用 -  總圖4F多媒體中心閉架書庫 -  (VC) NA1188 E4z  -  加至書車  更多資訊一般印刷資料1984Russia: an architecture for world revolution / by El Lissitzky ; translated by Eric DluhoschLissitzky, El, 1890-1941Russland; die Rekonstruktion der Architektur in der Sowjetunion. English限館內閱覽 -  總圖B1專藏文庫 -  周宜旋 NA1188 L513 1984  -   加至書車  更多資訊

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Jung-Hua Liu

I come from Taiwan and am fine art PhD student in university of Leeds, UK. My interest is anthopology, archaeology and technology. I try to explore technology in anthropology context to analyze how human culture affect technology development in rapid-changing globalization era. My main media is online website and medium is Wi-Fi data and html colours. They are invisible in our real world but they are obvious while you have Internet-equipped devices, no matter laptops, mobile phone or mp3 players. The technology brings us to transform invisible to visible and make human beings as cyobrgs and posthuman.