This practice-based PhD project engages artistically with the physical side-effects of abstract computational processes, e.g. fluctuations in power consumption, sonic, optical and thermal emissions.
Computation, even in the cloud, is determined by physical conditions. For instance, electromagnetic emissions leak a system’s activity or data. These by-products of computation are used and abused by criminal and counter-criminal powers and industries. For example, the FM radio receiver of a smartphone may as well be deployed to control its speech recognition. At the same time, there is development underway to use these physical phenomena to increase user privacy. Huang and Snowden’s ‘Introspection Machine’ monitors radio transmissions from smartphones to protect users against government surveillance.
I aim for a physical approach to algorithms. In doing so, I draw on the history of media and sound art that, since the 1960s, has sought to make use of physical energies, as well as more recent works on the intrinsic dimensions of computation.
My interest in the energetic materiality of computation will be supported by research into media theory that analyses and theorises contemporary technologies, with a focus on the entanglements between logical and physical domains.