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Spectrum Survey
An investigation on the electromagnetic spectrum
by Matthew Biederman

Spectrum Survey is built on a collection of measures of the electromagnetic environment of the city. The artist toolkit (GPS devices, photo, video, trifield broadband measure, etc.) allows one to record traces of electromagnetic radiation: electricity, waves and frequencies, magnetism as well as WiFi web routers.

Anything using electric power or wireless transmission affects the local electromagnetic field. Powerlines, cell phones, radios, automobiles, lightbulbs, everything. The electromagnetic field around your body can consist of noise from power lines overhead, data from a nearby wireless router, radio and television broadcasts, the earth’s natural magnetic field or any combination of these. Walking around the city or country is very different than it was only 50 years ago. If we could only see, or sense the electromagnetic field around us, we might consider space differently. ‘Empty’ space is hardly empty anymore, and at any given moment you might be passing through a lover’s quarrel taking place over the telephone, or an international bank transfer worth millions of dollars. The project Spectrum Survey renders the traffic of spectrum visible in a particular place in time. By doing so, the electromagnetic spectrum can be seen on the same level as other parts of environment.

The Office of Spectral Ecology is available to survey your neighborhood in order that you can have a better idea of your own environment. To request a survey in your location,


Matthew Biederman (a.k.a. DelRay), has been performing, installing and exhibiting works which explore themes of cut-up electronic image delivery, media saturation, and data systems since the mid nineties. Several of his projects focus on the properties and use of the electromagnetic spectrum. His installations have been exhibited in the US, South America, and Europe, and his video and film work has been shown in several international festivals. As a VJ, his performances have been featured in various festivals in Quebec and elsewhere. Originally from the U.S., Matthew Biederman lives in Montréal.


Production, web design and integration : AgenceTOPO
Concept and Electromagnetic Surveys: Matthew Biederman

The author whishes to thank: Vincent Archambault, Guy Asselin, Michel Lefebvre, Sylvie Parent and Tanya Das Neves.


This icon is the location of the measurement and photograph.
This circle is a WiFi Access point whose size is proportionate to its strength.
The pink line is the entire path measured.

Click anywhere on the path to jump to that location.

Click the + and – to zoom in or out.

Click and drag to pan the map.

Click the + sign on the right of the map to turn layers on or off.

Click the pull-down menu to select the survey to view.

Click ‘Download the dataset’ to download the source data for the survey selected.  You will download the raw CSV survey measurements, and three KML files that you can open and explore with Google Earth.

Rewind, Stop, Play, FastForward.
Click any of these to play through the survey in your desired direction, and speed.

Click anywhere in the graphs to jump to a particular measurement location.

Click anywhere on a path to jump to a particular measurement location.

About the measurements:

Electric Field: measurement of the energy level of the electric charge in the environment at an accuracy level of +/- 30%
Magnetic Field: measurement of the energy of the force exerted on a magnetic object at an accuracy of +/- 30%
Microwave Field: measurement of the spectrum’s energy level between 100kHz and 2.5Ghz at an accuracy level of a factor of 2
Available Access Points: number of all the WiFi data access point at a given location with their names.

Equipment List:

1x Arduino Board:
1x Ladyada GPS Shield:
1x USGlobalSat EM406-A GPS Module (SiRF III):

1x Satechi TM series intervalometer:

3x Alphalabs Trifield Broadband Meter:

1x Canon 400D SLR:
1x Sigma EX 10-20mm 1:4-5.6 Lens:

Software Backend:

Open Street Map:

Resources about Electromagnetic Fields:

World Health Organization:
National Environmental Heath Sciences:
Health Canada:
The Electromagnetic Spectrum Described:

Creative Commons License
Spectrum Survey by Matthew Biederman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License.