Brennan McGaffey
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Utility-Intertied Signal Generation & Transfer
Intermod Series No.5
On January 26, 2004, a mailer was sent to the Lampo list, stating plainly that "USG&T will begin sending the signal using the utility powerline network." Recipients were directed to the Lampo Web site for details and invited to log their responses in an online journal.
The project, from Chicago artist Brennan McGaffey, distributed an Extremely Low Frequency pulse into localized areas of the city.
"Transmission occurred by using and altering the electromagnetic field surrounding the powerline network," explains the artist in his archived USG&T information. "The signal was inaudible and relied on passive bio-reception. A special portable electronic unit was designed to plug into the grid and automatically pattern the pulse-wave signal, distributing it using the network's alternating current. These Conditioning Units (CUs) were concentrated into five local areas."
Lampo and McGaffey worked together for several months, discussing the project, designing USG&T logos and printed materials, editing the online text and programming the Web site. The intentionally enigmatic mailer mimicked utility bills and other impersonal, official-looking mail. The online text and FAQ appeared to explain the project but, in fact, were purposely confusing.
The work is striking for its redundant, insistent silenceórather than a concert, a non-event; an anonymous mailing that informs individuals an inaudible signal has been sent remotely; scientific and precise on the one hand, with a detailed explanation and online FAQ, but resolutely mysterious and opaque.
Brennan McGaffey (b. 1967) has had solo presentations of his projects at Lampo (2004), TBA Exhibition Space (1999), and RX Gallery (1996), all in Chicago. He has also participated in a number of group exhibitions and collaborations including "Audio Relay" (2002-ongoing), an autonomous, mobile radio station; "Low Altitude Atmospheric and Civic Modifications" (2001), a five-month project hosted by Temporary Services that consisted of mood-enhancing micro-modifications of Chicago's near atmosphere environment; "Active Music: A New Music Marathon," Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2000); and "Wall Work," White Columns, New York (1998). McGaffey is the recipient of the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Individual Artist's Grant (2001) and a Finalist Award from the Illinois Arts Council (2000).
Lampo would like to thank Brennan McGaffey and Bill Milosz.
About the size of a typewriter, the CU's integrated components produce the signal's pulsed modulations.
Map shows USG&T designated area reception.

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