MLA050903002M - REPORT BY MARKO PELJHAN
Makrolab, Isola di Campalto, Laguna di Venezia 05.9.03 14.00Z
The MAKROLAB project is an ongoing mobile laboratory setup built for the open and integral research and common work of artists, scientists and tactical media workers in the fields of telecommunications, migrations research, weather and climate. It was first set up in 1997, during the documenta X exhibition in Kassel, Germany, and was consequently operating in Western Australia (Rottnest Island), Slovenia (Veliki Kras) and in the Scotish Highlands (Atholl Estates). The final aim of the project is the establishment of an independent art and science based research station on the Antarctic continent in 2007. On June 13, 2003 the lab in the markIIex architecture phase started operations on the island of Campalto (Isola di Campalto), in the Venice Lagoon as part of the Biennale di Venezia art exhibition and the PHARE CBC Interreg IIIA program, organised by Patagonia Art, rx:tx and Projekt Atol.
Many discrete projects were and are carried out within the lab by the different crews that were present in it, ranging from the research of the local ecology, to open source and free software development, telecomunications testing, bird counting and population analysis and water and solid waste recycling and desalinisation system tests. Among art/science projects carried out within the lab, one should point out the project using the SeaStar satellite SeaWiFS (Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor) instrument datasets, projects dealing with the quantification and analysis of the life in the lab and a situationist analogue derive mapping project of the city of Venice. Among other things maps of the island were redrawn and remapped and the telecommunications spectrum on the 2.4GHz in Venice was mapped during a 'war sailing' session in late August.
This is the list of crews and their projects/tasks within the lab in the past two months and a half:
SETUP CREW 2003
The task of the setup expeditionary crew was to prepare the terrain for the positioning of the markIIex structure on the Island of Campalto, the creation of the network architecture, establishment of the network links, the setup of the autonomous water supply and energy production systems and the setup of the communications console in the Individual Systems section of the Venice Biennale at the Corderie.
The crew encountered may difficulties during the setup, from simple logistics to problems with bureaucratic delays and the general lack of support within the framework of the Biennale, but it succeded to establish a network link between the island and Venice, but further delays in the laying of a simple 230V electrical cable, which had to be done by a technician appointed by the organisation delayed the primary network setup for another two weeks.
Labs primary systems came online on July 12 and members of the setup crew used the berths on July 13. The Individual Systems communications console was online and operating on July 12. The setup crew finished work on July 14, when members of the First Expedition Crew started working on the lab.
EXPEDITION ONE CREW
The first expedition crew worked on the setup of the labs software and hardware sensorics, and was, because of the connectivity problems setting up a second, satellite based link, to complement the first one, that was not operational due to bureaucracy and a ship parked in front of the antennae. The antennae would just have to be moved higher, but because of access and burocracy problems, this could not happen. The second, satellite based link had to be deployed on an emergency basis. After problems with the ground station in Germany (two terminals online with the same channel delay) and countless communications with the ground station operators (they claimed the problem was on the lab side, but we insisted it was on theirs') the network finaly became fully operational on July 15, a month after the official opening of the Biennale with a 450Kbit down/150Kbit up link. Tests of the water recycling and supply systems were carried out in this time, together with the full test of the lab energy suite, which had to be repaired due to a frequency inconsistency between two power buses.
The first expedition crew, consisting of the LJUDMILA (Ljubljana digital media lab) operators Frelih and Kranjec also continued work on the SLIX release of Knoppix, due to be finished and presented later this year. The first crew finished the work and prepared the lab for the first full crew (8+3), that had to start working for an intense three week period on July 13.
UCSB RESEARCH CREW 1
The UCSB research crew worked on many different concept outlines for future projects connected to the interests of the Makrolab. Two of the more interesting project that have tacmedia connections are the concept for the implementation of an autonomous self powered mesh sensor network, that can be deployed from remote carriers developed by Jungeol Chun and the pStruct network architecture/engine, developed by Ethan Kaplan.
The mesh sensor network architecture is based on an autonomous sensor package bus definition, that will have minimum power and maximum availability qualities. The data gathered by the sensor network can be transmitted, again remotely, by any of the nodes to the central carrier, which has to be located within the desiered and specified range. The project will be finished during late 2003, early 2004 and will be tested during the second phase of the Makrolab Territory 2003 in Campalto. The sensors will be multi-role and multi use, from environmental and chemical sensing, to visual and aural. The mesh architecture will enable the seamless transition of data transmitting capability and full network survivability also under the most difficult of conditions. The pStruct is a Java based framework/engine for the creation of a connectionist oriented website, with an engine that allows for autonomous nodes to exist within a world, reacting to their environment with neural-autonomy and connecting to each other to form an n-dimensional environment. On the foundation level, pStruct is a multithreaded application where every autonomous unit operates independently of each other as a self sustaining thread. The World forms the "blackboard" on which the agents/nodes are run, as well as the arena where protocols, factories and services are run. The main conceptual outline of the project is based on the possible implementation of this architecture on large user group websites, or collaborative online communities and an implementation is planned for the use in the Makrolab during operations in 2004 as the focus of the Network Centric Indentiy Research. Other projects carried out by this crew were projects dealing with the immigration situation in nothern Italy, a project of the remaping of the Campalto island and a project of quantification and analysis of life and work in the lab.
EXPEDITION CREW 2
The second expedition crew worked on the EMM (Electronic Media Monitoring), a mainstay of Makrolab related work since 1997, using the Makrolab Ku and L-band satellite transmissions receiving capabilities. Information and propaganda transmissions from middle eastern and western media were taped and compared and the current telecommunications map of the HF spectrum project was initiated. The EMM team monitored, documented and analysed transmissions and tv information from a variety of sources during the Liberia crisis and followed the "war on terror" and Iraq occupation coverage on such diverse TV stations as Al Arabiya, Al Manar, Fox News, BBC, CNN, Sahar, Irin, Irib, Al Jazeera, Syrian TV, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi TV as well as on the L-band channels. The open source intelligence proceedings of the EMM work will be presented during the OPEN SKY project in Paris in October and on a new online shared resource archive on the Makrolab research webspace in 2004, when the work will be continued. This crew also analysed samples of the water from the labs water recycling system and the source lagoon water, noting extreme pollution levels in the northern part of the lagoon. The filters of the water recycling system, with a nominal life of 30 days in normal conditions, have to be changed every 6 hours for normal water production levels, thus the strain on the system is extreme and it caused many automatic shutdowns and pump system degradation.
The DYNE.ORG free software and open source programmers collective occupied the Makrolab for two weeks. A new release of the DYNEBOLIC bootable CD Linux distribution (dynebolic 1.06 makrolab) was finished, together with the porting of the release on a converted XBOX console. The other initiated but not finished project is the porting of the MOSIX cluster management system on the consoles, to create a cheap and affordable cluster computing capability for future general and lab use. DYNE.ORG members also used the lab facilities for the creation of performance situations and helped create the Makrolab online users manual, which is an ongoing effort to present the labs systems to future crews for safe and effective operations. On the mapping side, a 'war sailing' operation was conducted from a boat into the city of Venice using three monitoring computers running Kismet. The details of the historical 'war sailing' will be released by the DYNE crew in the near future. During the second part of the DYNE crew residency, the balloon in No Man's land project collective, worked on the preparation and launch of two aerostatic meteorological observation baloons in conjunction and collaboration of the Italian Air Force - Reparto Sperimentazioni di Meteorologia Aeronautica. (ReSMA). At 6.20UTC, 8.20AM local time, a sounding balloon train, consisting of a 600g meteorological sounding ballon of the Italian Air Force Meteorology Service, a recovery parachute, a 2.4GHz imaging system of the balloon in No Man's Land project and a radar reflector was succesfully launched by Nin Brudermann, the Makrolab team and the ReSMA team, consisting of the commander in charge of the operation, Cpt. Foti Francesco (GARN), Maresciallo II cl. Lavorgna Sandro (ATG Geofisico), Maresciallo II cl. Oliva Antonio (ATG elletronica), and with the logistical support by 51o Stormo Istrana, represented by Primo Maresciallo Randazzo Francesco (ATG Motorizzazione).
The balloon was launched from the position 45deg 27.662 North and 27deg 19.093, 15m SE from the markIIex structure on Campalto Island, Venice Lagoon, and ascended at an approximate speed of 7m/s.
The imaging system operated nominally for approximately 30 minutes, to the estimated altitude of 12600m, then the LOS occurred. No visual observations of the balloon were reported by approaching or departing aircraft at nearby airports. ( a class 1, series B NOTAM, Number 4288 was issued in conjuction with the launch). The second launch from the same location was executed at 1805 UTC, 2005 local time, with a larger payload and a longer range transmission system developed by the artist and radio-amateurs from Germany and Austria. The launch was carried out during the start of a CB based storm, but was extremely successful in terms of imaging, with the transmission lasting 45 minutes, even though the balloon entered several lower and higher cloud layers in extreme temperatures. 0600 UTC and 1800 UTC are standard observation times for Global Upper Air Observation.
The Balloon in No Man's land project by Nin Brudermann is an ongoing art/science project that the artist is carrying out in conjunction with meteorology services and agencies of various countries. In September and October of this year she will be operating and launching from the Aurora Australis ship and the Australian Antarctic Station Casey.
The Universite Tangente collective worked on the lab simultaneously with the second part of the DYNE residency, bringing the number of active residents of the lab to the record of 19 for one day. (the lab was markIIex structure was designed to support 8 crew members) The UT team is working in conjuntion with the LOA Hacklab Milan on the developement and visualisation code for a complex multi field tactical media database online tool for mapping contemporary capital, power and social relations. The initial conceptualisation of the work was done during their week long residency with LOA Hacklab members, the presentation of the results will be done during N5M.
EXPEDITION CREW 3
Expedition crew 3 continued with the work on the telecommunications map of the HF spectrum, the EMM work and started preparing the lab systems for winterisation. During this time, ground work for the bird migration research project was initiated and meetings with local authorities on the continuation of the project on the Island of Campalto were held. In conjunction with the plans for the 2004 lab operations, first conceptual outlines for the UAV 802.11 MR (mesh relay) were laid out, with the plan of operating and controlling the first tacmedia UAV over the baltic airspace in the summer of 2004 from the lab. Makrolab territory 2003, Isola di Campalto is slated to continue with the operation of the markIIex structure on the island into 2004 and the tactical media community is encouraged to contact the project for possible periods of residency during late 2003 and the first five months of 2004.
END OF REPORT