The age of printed maps is over. We are increasingly relying on network-capable devices in order to understand our geographical environment. We trust in what Google Maps tell us, when we get lost in a city we don't know. We check for restaurants and cafés nearby our location, and we use geo-localisation to know from our favorite social network where our best friend is spending the night.
The project Packetbrücke plays with the idea of simulating entire network situations by repositioning electromagnetic infrastructure/architecture into a different space. Wireless network packages are directly captured from a specific location and tunneled through the Internet to a remote location. In other words, geo-positioning data are mirrored in space. The project Packetbrücke literary injects a geographical space into another, effectively producing a new imaginary topography and, through this remediation, an “impossible reality”, as artist Julian Oliver puts it. It is like Situationism being rediscovered - not by humans but by their hand-held devices instead. The map is applied to another territory, and space navigation is suddenly and inadvertently turned into a dérive.
However, Packetbrücke is less a device for tricking geolocation services (even though it still does given the right circumstances) and more a device for manifesting the presence of a remote location.
The project demonstrates that positioning systems based on WLAN are a place for interventions but also at the same moment they are vulnerable to location spoofing attacks. This effect is especially interesting considering that an increasing number of our society, an ever-growing amount of devices are relying on wireless signals for localization, navigation and time-synchronization.
Formally speaking, the device resembles a sort of performance wherein the spectacle lies in its hidden architectural manifestation. Paradoxically, its manifestation through a sculpture (comprised of an excessive use of ethernet cables) emphasizes its topological dependence on the wired network topology.
During the exhibition, sender and receiver will be located in two different the areas in Ljubljana. At Aksioma | Project Space, mobile phones which usually use surrounding WIFI networks to determine their location will be “geo-hijacked” to make them “think” that they are located somewhere else. As a result, someone performing a wireless network scan will see network names belonging to a geographically distant location. And if he uses his phone or any other network-capable device in order to rely on where is the nearest bus station, restaurant or café, his device would be giving him wrong information.