Video: Field Experiment conducted at Wysing in July 2015. The HyperDrone / Hypersensor is a project developed by Rob Smith, Anna Troisi and Neal White for the Office of Experiments © 2015

What is a Hyperdrone / Hypersensor?
The title is given to the sculpture due to its multi-dimensional nature. As well as being an interplay of forms and materials, new and recycled elements, the work vibrates at resonant frequencies. The vibrations are created from sound waves generated by data taken from seismic (earthquake) sensors across the surface of the entire planet – the largest sensor in the world (that could be referred to as a ‘hyper object’). The work can be sensed in a number of ways, by sight or hearing, by touch or if stood in close proximity, felt through standing waves generated in the air and ground. It is inspired by La Monte Young’s work on immersive drone (sound) spaces.

The vibration that visitors experience originates from data taken from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) which monitors the ground for nuclear scale explosions. The data used here was supplied by the Atomic Weapons Establishment Blacknest, Reading UK. This global sensing network is interestingly now contributing to an early warning earthquake system to allow for tsunami alerts data. The main element of the sculpture is a section from a radome, a spherical structure used to cover satellite dishes by the military, shipping and scientific establishments.

How does it work?
Data from a range of seismic stations was requested from a UK partner in the CTBTO. This data was processed by composer, programmer and sound artist Anna Troisi before being carefully arranged to be played back to generate resonance in this structure – creating a ‘drone’ through the main panel of the work. The panel is held in tension by a resonating geometric ‘tensegrity’ structure. The sculpture was designed and made with artist Rob Smith during his artist residency at Wysing, where the first experimental Hyperdrone / Hypersensor was exhibited. 


Principal Experimenters: Neal White, Rob Smith and Anna Troisi.

The project extends research undertaken into a global network of techno-scientific sites, from labs to observatories that support advances in human development; experimentation, scientific instruments, supercomputing advances etc. The sculpture is both material (radome panel) and immaterial (data/sound) that are phenomenal to our current condition, in which we can only experience events unfolding which are either too large or too small, through technological enhancement. The work is therefore extra-phenomenal as it relates to the senses.

This experiment is conceived as one node of a potentially global-scale, global sensing artwork. In this larger proposal, a network would be created to work with artists, architectural, scientific or social groups able to construct hyper drones that act together as a way of experiencing seismic or planetary reverb, in the context of our own relation to human perception of time, scale and event.

History and Thanks

The Radome Panel was part of a golf ball shaped sphere used to cover military and industrial satellite dishes and radar – used to trace or work with near earth objects such as planes, GPS satellites etc. It was acquired for Steve Rowell (Member of Office of Experiments, 2010- ) for the project ‘Ultimate High Ground’, which was part of ‘Dark Places’, curated by Office of Experiments at John Hansard Gallery with Arts Catalyst and SCAN in 2009. The experiment has been developed so far with thanks to Wysing, Cambridgeshire UK and the Experimental Media Research Group at Bournemouth University.