AV Festival 2008, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
08. marec 2008

SCATTER! was created by Peljhan in collaboration with Biederman, Springer and Abrahamsberg as a continuation of research that has started with Peljhan’s earlier large collaborative performance project series, SOLAR at Ars Electronica in 1998, and the Signal-Sever! performance series, that was presented in Riga (2001), Gwangju, Ljubljana, (2002), Glasgow (2003) and Paris (2004). SCATTER! was the first performance in the series, that later developed into the SPEKTR! performance.

All performances are based on the reception of live broadcast and communications, both digital and analogue in an array of frequencies, ranging from VLF, HF, VHF, UHF, up to Ka band. A series of antennae are set up in and around the performance space, including a radar system and the imagery and sound are fed live to the performers/operators which create complex sound and visual landscapes from them. The live imagery is complemented with archival imagery that the authors have gathered with their systems throughout the years, on Makrolab missions and elsewhere, all around the world.

The SCATTER! structure is based on the filing of the U.S. Patent# 2,292,387 in a typical act of civilian-military-civilian conversion, a method often used by the SCATTER! team. The patent was granted to George Anthiel and Hedy Keisler Markey (popularly known as Hedy Lamarr – the Austrian born American actress).

The avant-garde composer, George Antheil, a son of German immigrants and a neighbor of Lamarr, is known primarily for his ‘Ballet Mechanique’ which utilized automated instruments. Together, Lamarr and Anthiel submitted the idea of a ‘Secret Communications System’ in June 1941. On the 11th of August, 1942, the patent was granted to them. The system they described was an early version of frequency hopping that used a piano roll to change between 88 frequencies with the original intent to make U.S. radio guided torpedoes harder for enemies to detect or jam.

The idea was impractical at the time however, and not feasible due to the state of mechanical technology in 1942. It was not implemented in the U.S. until 1962, when it was used by the U.S. military ships during the blockade of of Cuba, and after the patent expired. Neither Lamarr or Antheil, profited from the patent, which was little known until, in 1997 when the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave Lamarr and award for this contribution.

Lamarr’s and Antheil’s frequency hopping idea serves as a basis for spread spectrum communication technology used today in commonplace devices ranging from cordless telephones to WiFi internet connects and CDMA.

During SCATTER! 88 frequency zones are be mapped in real-time structured together with a 15 year archive of HF digital and analog signals, VHF, UHF and microwave transmissions that have been collected all over the globe. A special radio amateur call sign – GB8AV was established for the event for transmission purposes.


The SCATTER! team for this performance was: Aljosa Abrahamsberg (AKA Nullo), Matthew Biederman (AKA DelRay), Marko Peljhan (AKA MX) & Brian Springer.  With the very special guest Glen Thompson.

Commissioned by the AV Festival 2008, with supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and in collaboration with BALTIC.

Special thanks to: David Coxson, the BALTIC Team, the AV Festival Team and the Waygood Amateur Radio Club.