Cell Phone Disco

Cell Phone Disco is a surface that visualizes the electromagnetic field of an active mobile phone. Several thousand lights illuminate when you make or receive a phone call in the vicinity of the installation. Cell Phone Disco makes an invisible property of the environment perceptible to our senses. It reveals the communicating body of the mobile phone.

Architect Ursula Lavrenčič (SLO) and information designer Auke Touwslager (NL) created an installation which transforms a part of the electromagnetic spectrum into another frequency range—the range of visible light. Their fascination lies with the transmission quality of the mobile phone; its presence beyond the shell of the device.

Every single mobile phone transmits radio waves in order to connect to a network, and every day millions of people around the world are broadcasting their private conversations. Here we are witnessing a unique moment in history when transmission is no longer an exclusive domain of broadcasting companies. Mobile phone connectivity has become just another layer of urban landscape and has substantially changed the electromagnetic topography of the environment.

Although Cell Phone Disco has been embraced by art galleries and museums, its rightful place is in public space to generate a glimpse at the dynamics of this omnipresent mobile phone traffic.

Lavrenčič and Touwslager do not label the radiation as good or bad. It is an essential part of the device, as physical and natural as the mobile phone itself. The installation merely provides a missing sense and creates an opportunity to witness it. It is up to the spectator to take a standpoint of his own. As the flickering of the red lights might be experienced as playful or disturbing, the visualization of the electromagnetic body of the mobile phone can fill him with worry or pure fascination.

Art, science, technology & design

Since 2004, Informationlab founders Auke Touwslager (NL) and Ursula Lavrenčič (SLO) have seen their efforts being adopted and appreciated by different fields and audiences. As a result, their work found its way to an international art community and to science museums and galleries around the world.

Most of the group collaboration is based on curiosity-driven research which subsequently lead to a variety of (art)installations, publications, workshops and lectures.

The Artists

Ursula Lavrenčič (1974) received her architectural degree from the Faculty of Architecture in Ljubljana, Slovenia and her Master of Arts from the Design Academy Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Lavrenčič is currently practicing as cross disciplinary designer. Her main focus is on concept development and architectural installations. Her very diverse set of skills enables Lavrenčič to offer out of the box thinking and innovative solutions. She strives for socially and environmentally responsible design.

Auke Touwslager (1972) received his design degree from the Design Academy Eindhoven, The Netherlands. As a strategic thinker & concept developer, Touwslager enjoys defining high-end design solutions for and with a diverse range of clients. Committed to design, research and innovation, expert in information architecture, design, information visualization and concept strategy.

Engineering by Aleš Vrhovec and Janez Jazbar.