Nickolay Lamm has already made the invisible visible with a project that showed what Wi-Fi would look like if we could see it, but for his latest series of images, the artist has turned his attention to cell phones. Cell phone networks across the country are made up of multiple hexagonal areas, each of which is called a cell, that you can clearly make out in the images. The hexagonal grid is efficient, as each cell tower sits at the intersection of three cells, and each of the three directional antennas on top of the tower covers a 120-degree slice of the landscape. To make sure his illustrations were as accurate as possible, Lamm worked with two professors of electrical and computer engineering: Danilo Erricolo at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Fran Harackiewicz at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
Lamm’s rendering of the Department of Commerce headquarters in Washington focuses on the tri-directional nature of radiation that emanates from a single cell phone tower. The different colors represent the radiation’s different frequencies, which allow mobile users to make calls without experiencing interference.
If cell phone radiation was actually visible, we would probably see hazy spheres of light pollution caused by the overlapping of different network carriers and neighborhoods. Add Wi-Fi, TV, and radio to the mix, and you’ll start to get a true picture of the radiation blanket that envelopes us on a day-to-day basis.
Images by Nickolay Lamm