Third Space is a transcultural collective of nine artists, writers and curators based in Helsinki, Finland. Born of the lack of accessible spaces for the politically and economically disenfranchised, Third Space gallery is a free space, opening its doors to a transcultural society in order to facilitate projects of socio-political impact that encourage discussion and challenge borders. A reflective and productive space that engenders new possibilities to re-think the cultural sphere, this place is not necessarily attached to a physical perimeter. Rather, we wish to create new forms of cultural meaning and production that move beyond four walls.
Wi-Fi networks populate urban environments and create intersecting boundaries within physical space. These territories provide new and interesting topographies, opening-up uncharted creative potential.
Captive portals provide a temporary gateway to the Internet, generally a place for businesses to harvest data but for us a place to provocatively host digital artworks. In this workshop, we will study the use of repurposed wi-fi routers and captive portal technology in carving out virtual spaces within the urban environment. We will instruct participants to install our open-source captive portal software (https://github.com/sebpiq/FreedomPortal) onto off-the-shelf wifi routers, enabling the creation of virtual projects that can inhabit any public space and be accessed by anyone with a smartphone.
By planting concealed Wi-Fi routers in various public places, we hope to create provocative artworks that appropriate public digital space for citizens and artists. Captive portal is a technology used in wireless hotspots—simply a web page shown to the user when they connect to the network. Often, this page pops-up on connection, without the user's consent. Occasionally, it displays payment options for access or solicits information from the user.
False Starts is an attempt to confront these invasive practices by occupying the territory of wireless networks. By cheaply implementing our own wireless hotspots using low-cost Wi-Fi routers, we can set up a large amount of Wi-Fi networks which can be spread across the whole city, in train stations, cultural venues, and other public places.
This workshop will aim at facilitating such projects in collaboration with participants. The workshop will examine the notion of site-specificity in virtual art, explicate the possibilities and limitations of captive portals, and finally assist participants in using their own artworks as interventions in the urban sphere. Results will be an exhibition of embedded Wi-Fi networks placed throughout the city.