DOWNSTREAM is an interactive installation visualizing volumes of data emerging from browsing the internet. It creates an open wireless network and continuously tracks every megabyte of data passing through. The machine translates these abstract virtual entities into 1.2g 6mm steel balls, which fall to the ground, creating an immediate experience, a perceptible data stream.
The top board initially holds four-thousand steel balls translating to four-thousand megabyte of data. A modified router underneath the machine creates a wireless network and tracks traffic passing it’s WAN interface. A serially connected microcontroller translates this information into rotary motion of the roller mechanism. A small light barrier on the side of the machine keeps track of passing steel balls. As soon as the machine runs empty it terminates all wireless connections and waits until it is refilled.
Data is commonly percieved in its virtual representations, E.g. as documents, images, numbers, which are inherited from the physical world. Those virtual representations could be disassembled into abstract binary states which in fact are physically present but they would never be perceived as indeed physical as those reside in micron-dimensions not perceptible by humans. Downstream is an attempt to give changes of state involved in writing and reading data a physical representation enabling visitors to experience the magnitude and labour of its presence.