Do Clouds Hate Weather Satellites? (WIP)

paper, ink, satellite images


Satellite images, marked by their vertical perspective, suggest strong political power behind them (Steyerl 2011); but access to the signal of those satellite images is democratic—the electromagnetic waves sent by NOAA and METEOR weather satellites, as a physical phenomenon, cannot be blocked from being received by others. On Reddit, YouTube and other websites, tens of thousands of people with simple DIY antennas and decoders share the weather satellite images they receive. They also share the methods and equipment they use
to help one another improve the quality of these signals.


For the last months I’ve been receiving image signals from a Russian weather satellite Meteor M2. Those images were taken by the satellite from the space. The content of the images are clouds because the duty of a weather satellite to take pictures is to observe, track and predict clouds’ movement. Every image I received have white line glitches in it because of different interference in the air - from other electronics, from the clouds themselves, from my nonprofessional, flawed equipment and operations.


This project is a gradual process of layering up the glitches to a point where the audience can hardly tell if the white parts or the imagery lines are the glitches.

It is a subtle response to those people who mosaic many satellite images to fill up the glitches to get a complete clear satellite map. I am doing the opposite; I am stitching those images to get a clear glitch. This gesture is not trying to avoid the disadvantages of radio amateurs’ poor reception but celebrating a force of decentralization, which counteracts the sense of power and surveillance implied by the vertical perspective of those satellite images.


The title of this project is Do Clouds Hate Weather Satellites? The title here tells a different story—from the perspective of clouds. If we think about the relationship between weather satellites and clouds in terms of the relationship between human activity and surveillance systems, the cloud/weather/monitored object itself becomes a means of anti-surveillance, interfering with the surveillance signal. The clouds, formed by tiny water droplets and dust, interfere with the electromagnetic signals coming back from the satellite to the ground, creating “glitches” and “noise” in the picture. People seem to feel uncomfortable when they are aware that they are under surveillance. Do clouds feel the same? This project then seems to become a futile “closed read” of the glitches, the creation of clouds using the medium of electromagnetic waves.


Usually, the satellite images are meant to be mosaicked by people to get a larger view or to reveal what’s covered up by the clouds. By editing and mosaicking the satellite images I’ve received, I’ve become a kind of technometeorologist, creating a mosaic the satellite would appreciate to better understand the surrounding atmosphere and the clouds would appreciate as a form of privacy.



云讨厌气象卫星吗?(进行中)


卫星图像,以其单向、俯瞰、垂直视角(Vertical Perspective)为标志,背后隐含着强烈的政治权力暗示(Steyerl 2011),但是对于卫星发射出的图像信号的“探视权”却是民主的——来自美国的NOAA气象卫星和来自俄罗斯的METEOR气象卫星发出的电磁波作为一种物理现象,你无法阻止它被其他人接收。在Reddit,YouTube等网络论坛上,数以千计的人们在讨论着他们使用简单的DIY天线和解码工具接收气象卫星信号的方法。他们发帖交流,分享他们的设备和小技巧,来互相帮助提升各自所收到的卫星图像的质量。


在过去的几个月里,我一直在接收来自俄罗斯的气象卫星Meteor M2的图像信号。这些信号里的图像是由卫星从太空中拍摄的。图像的内容是云,因为气象卫星拍摄照片的职责是观察、跟踪和预测云的运动。我收到的每张图像中都有白线故障(glitches),因为空气中存在不同的对信号的干扰--来自其他电子产品,来自云层本身,来自我的非专业的、有缺陷的设备和操作。


这个项目是是一个将故障逐渐累加、以至于观众很难分辨白色部分还是图像部分是故障的过程。这个动作是一个对那些拼接许多卫星图像以填补故障缺失的信息从而得到完整清晰的卫星地图的人的微妙回应。我做了正好相反的事情:我拼接这些图像以获得一个“清晰的”故障。这种做法不是为了规避无线电爱好者信号接收不良的缺点,而是为了庆祝他们身上的一种去中心化的力量,它抵消了那些卫星图像的垂直视角所暗示的权力和监视感。


这个项目的标题是《云层讨厌气象卫星吗?》标题讲述了一个从云的角度思考的不同视角。如果我们从人类活动和监视系统的关系来思考气象卫星和云的关系,云/天气/被监视的物体本身就成为干扰监视信号的反监视手段。由微小的水滴和灰尘形成的云层干扰了从卫星传回地面的电磁信号,在画面中产生 "故障 "和 "噪音"。当人们意识到自己处于监视之下时,似乎会感到不舒服,云是不是也一样呢?这个项目似乎变成了对故障的徒劳的精读,将故障视为云利用电磁波进行的创作。


卫星图像一直被人们用来进行拼贴组合(mosaic):有时是为了获取更完整的视图,有时是为了显示出被云层遮住的地面景象。在某种程度上,通过用我自己的方式处理和拼贴我收到的卫星图像,我成为另一种技术气象学家,创造出令气象卫星更了解大气、令云层拥有更多隐私的拼贴组合形式。



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