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Sculpture to Reflect Campus Wireless Traffic 84

prostoalex writes "Ball State University, the top unwired school in the nation according to Intel survey, is set to unveil a sculpture that will reflect the wireless traffic on the campus network. From the article: 'Beginning Tuesday night at 8 p.m., as people log onto the Internet via Ball State's network, their online activity will appear as sound, color, patterns and images projected onto giant screens set up around the base of Shafer Tower, located in the middle of campus on McKinley Avenue.'"
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Sculpture to Reflect Campus Wireless Traffic

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  • I've never thought of a set of projection screens as a sculpture before..but I guess they haven't created an amorphous blob that's supersensitive to wireless transmissions yet :( One day!
    • Any chance that my internet traffic will look like naked women?
      • Re:sculpture? (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Yup. Everyone at Ball State explore this link every day at noon: Spencer Tunnick [] (warning: this is considered fine art, so don't look if you're easily offended).
      • Any chance that my internet traffic will look like naked women?

        Cypher: All I see now is blonde, brunette, redhead.
    • Re:sculpture? (Score:3, Interesting)

      True, this really is more of an installation.
    • I've never thought of a set of projection screens as a sculpture before

      Eh, this guy in my class takes beeswax and his own hair, makes blobs, and says they represent "stem cells". For this, he gets a special exhibit all to himself and all sorts of bubbly effusive praise from the art department.

      This is not art. It's just artsy.

  • by Agret ( 752467 )
    Damn that's a cool idea, wish they'd made it open source though :(
  • I fail to see... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gobelet ( 892738 ) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @10:15PM (#15136178) patterns projected on a screen could be qualified as a sculpture. Still it'd be nice to see it going all noisy and red on the next worm attack.
    • I for one have no desire to see it when the virus hits.
    • Re:I fail to see... (Score:4, Informative)

      by robson ( 60067 ) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @11:04PM (#15136473)
      I fail to see... how patterns projected on a screen could be qualified as a sculpture.

      This project could probably more accurately be filed under "installation", but it's not uncommon for sculpture to be a catch-all for anything that's not painting, video, photography, or craft work.

      You can find some good contemporary installation coverage here [].
      • Wouldn't this fall under "video?" I mean, if they were projecting, oh, The Fifth Element on those screens, it'd be called a "movie." I agree with the rest of the folks that say calling this "sculpture" is quite a stretch of the word. Now, if it were actually a sculpture that had, say, for example illuminated portions that could change color...maybe some kinetic parts, who knows what...but something with physical volume, then I'd be really impressed. Right now, it (to me) seems like little more than a co
    • " patterns projected on a screen could be qualified as a sculpture."

      Depends on what the display looks like, I suppose. I mean if it's just a big screen with imagery, well then yeah I see your point. But if the screen is mounted on a sculpture then.. well you've got a sculpture.
  • Toldja! (Score:4, Funny)

    by TheTrueELf ( 557812 ) <> on Saturday April 15, 2006 @10:18PM (#15136206) Homepage


    "It should make everyone's surroundings more interesting because that's the purpose of public art," he said. "To exist and engage the people who are passing by."

    See, officer, I told you she's not a hooker. She's a Performance Artist!

  • I go to Ball State and this is the first I've heard of it.

    I'll see if I can borrow my folk's digital camera and take pictures.
  • A former "Teachers College" (Now more business and Medicine these days) Is showing that a decision made in the early 80's to make a computer available to every student is paying off big time. Kudo's to the Cards!!

    Now if you could just convince the alumni to fund a football stadium *grin*
    • Re:Cool beans (Score:2, Informative)

      Digging further I find. That even though the entire sculpture is made possible by Apple computers and software [] the dang this is only viewable via Microsoft Media player!. Talk about frustration city. Less effort on their part would have resulted in greater market penetration. Funny too how the sculpture done on Mac G5's celebrates an Intel award.
      • Interestingly, while MSFT software is sold and supported out of the Robert Bell building, where the CS department is, Apple hardware and software is sold and supported out of the Teacher's College building.
    • Actually, one of the signs of a good school is one where there isn't enough interest in the student body to even get enough people together to play varsity football. Other fitness activites and casual sports are fine. Football? Surely you jest!

      Turn the stadium into a place to play concerts. Turn the 'coaches' into groundskeepers.

    • Good to see my Alma Mater get a little into the public eye. Sometimes people ask if I'm just joking around when I say I went to school there. They did have some good computer labs (supported by me for a while too), which were fairly useful. They also then gave up RB labs on the second floor for network gaming on Friday's and Saturday evenings back in the mid to late 90's (think Quake CTF over a 10mbit lan).

      And I supported the new football stadium with a bit of a gift. And I go back down there every now and
  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Saturday April 15, 2006 @10:18PM (#15136211) Homepage
    If the NSA can get usable info from blinking LEDs [], what are the security risks of this scultpure? Nearly everyone knows that radio communications can be freely spied upon, we've all seen scanners that let you listen in to police band radio, but other methods of intercepting communications rarely come to the mind of Joe Average. TEMPEST and NONSTOP [] attacks have been well-researched for decades, but the closest they've gotten to general public knowledge is Neal Stephenson's use of the concept in Cryptonomicon [] .
    • Anyone who considers unencrypted traffic passing over the internet as 'private' is naive. If the RIAA can look at your downloading habits, then there is little reason to expect the CIA, FBI, or your neighbor Alice isn't also looking at them. If people are worried about privacy then maybe this will help them realize they are not doing things in secret. There are things you can do to mitigate this, like using encrypted chats or proxy servers, so if it is really important there are things you can do to avoi
    • Um, yeah. And mechanical turnstyles are a privacy risk as well...
    • If you set it up so that LEDs are on in 10ms bursts, then there should be no real problem with sucking data out of them. If you leave them directly connected to the data flow, then yeah --- you're asking for trouble..

      As for the comment about "who considers unencrypted traffic public", it's one thing to whisper 'cute' things to your girlfriend at a public phone. It's another to have it broadcast over the PA system. Although both are 'public', there's a difference in the nature of the beast.

      It's silly t

  • Wow... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bepe86 ( 945139 )
    If they make it so that it shows what exactly people are downloading, they can probably relabel it as a XXX cinema...
    • I think they'd be more interested in seeing the warez than the porn?

      I'm sure the RIAA and company would love to sniff those connections. All the time with a calculator...there's 10 grand there, another 10 then there....
  • by whitehatlurker ( 867714 ) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @10:19PM (#15136221) Journal
    I hope that they're not sampling images from the wireless data streams, though it might be interesting to watch the Pr0n on their "sculpture".
    • Does anybody else remember a little Mac utility that came out of one of the hacking conventions, probably about 6 or 7 years ago (not that long after Apple brought out the first Air Port Base Stations -- so maybe more than that) that would grab and display JPEG and GIF images that were being transmitted over an unencrypted WLAN?

      I think I recall reading about it in Mac World or MacUser, although it was a pretty quick-and-dirty app, it won some sort of award at whatever conference it was presented at. I've ne
  • packetbomb (Score:4, Interesting)

    by apostrophesemicolon ( 816454 ) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @10:19PM (#15136223) Journal
    how does a port scan or packet flood show on the sculpture?
  • Wall of Sheep! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gknoy ( 899301 )
    It would be interesting if they made it a wall of sheep (like at Defcon), but I imagine the backlash from said sheep (administration, professors, etc) would be significant.
    • For those not in the loop, the Wall of Sheep at DefCon (a hackers convention) is a projection showing all the unencrypted logins (username and password) going over their network during the convention.
  • Wow. What a stupid article. Art 'met the digital age' a REALLY long time ago.

    Wireless technology, often known as WiFi, allows users to access the Internet with a wireless card -- often built into the computer -- that eliminates the need for cables or wires to connect online.

    Almost Ric Romero quality there.
  • their online activity will appear as sound, color, patterns and images projected onto giant screens
    They actually mean images of beautiful naked women and bank account balances ;-)).
  • by sinij ( 911942 )
    Taking goatse to whole new level!
  • Welcome to Crystal Corp. Starting from what once started on giant screens in Ball State University, we have made our technology assume the form of 3-dimensional Crystal balls, where you can gaze into to see sights you would never see otherwise. Some of our latest Crystal Balls: The Mind Ball: Tiny transmitters carried around by people in your office/university detect and transmit the most dominant thoughts they are having. See this collectively on our Mind Ball! The World Ball: Events in the world, tra
  • Now you just need a really good micrphone and a camera array along with some software to analyze the sound and images and revert that data back into packet data (or what ever they are representing) and you have a network sniffer.
    • Well I guess that wouldn't work so well if the designers run the data they capture against some randomizer. It wouldn't be 1:1 representation of the data but who cares, this is all eye candy anyway. I guess I kind of defeated my own idea.
  • It sounds like this will be best viewed at night, and if people are going to be bringing lots of laptops out to play, I think the theifs might be out as well...

    On the other hand, will we see spikes in the images when a device is forcibly removed from its owner?

    • Why would you leave your laptop where people can steal it?
      It seems to me that people would take their laptops and sit down with them on, oh I don't know... their laps?
      And if a thief is willing to physically wrestle the laptop from its rightful owner, then there are more serious problems than what time of day it's happening.
  • ... what would streaming pr0n look like?
  • I don't know about anyone else, but this is just cool. How long before we can have something like this attached to our own at home networks?
  • Tomato, Tomato Potato, Potato Art, Crap... I guess the way you pronounce these depends on where you come from.
  • So guys.... What was with the almost-daylong outage? Are we gonna get a description? I mean, we're a bunch of geeks here, so whatever it is that froze out slashdot for half a day is gonna be of some interest to us.
  • Sorry, I just had to take a chisel at this one.
  • Is this supposed to be modern art? It just looks like naked chicks to me.
  • I don't even see the code anymore.. I just see blonde, brunette, redhead...

    Hey! Don't stand in front of the screen!
  • "wireless traffic on the campus network" - "projected onto giant screens"

    Yay, college!
  • [] - half-hidden on the news article. A much more educational page as to how exactly they're doing it, which (call me crazy) -might- be of more interest to a "News for Nerds" site.
  • I guess we wont be seeing a cure for cancer out of this campus anytime soon.

    2 questions though:

    1) what does this have to do with wireless network trafic? Are they implying that this increasing traffic? Or are they simply boasting about their use of wireless networking? The former would be an interesting claim (but doubtful), the latter certainly isn't interesting.

    2) what is preventing the "artist" from just randomly displaying colors and such? Where's the artistic and technical oversight? This could be
  • I can see it now...

    The United States Supreme Court today refused to hear a case brought by students of Ball State University against the National Security Agency for recording their network activity on the university's active art installation depicting the activity of the network. The refusal leaves in place a lower court ruling that the National Security Agency has the right to record and decode network traffic that is displayed in public locations, no matter how the information is encoded.
  • I was recently involved in a similar installation at the Slade Centre for Electronic Media [] in London. The technical side was pretty simple: kismet [] to intercept packets, tcpdump to parse the output and a bit of Perl to trigger FluidSynth [] sounds based on the source, destination and packet type. We also detected Bluetooth devices using a USB dongle and GSM activity using a wideband AM receiver designed for paranoid hippies [].

    The hardest part was choosing the right sounds to represent each type of packet. It's

  • If I was at that school I would be more interested in the school NOT spending all the money on such a device and, instead, lower tuition.

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault