Alewife Interplanetary Anetnna

Can a building become an antenna? Or better: Can a building that already possesses a specific shape be converted into an antenna that uses its structure and form to receive a signal? And if so, what would it receive? It would be a massive antenna; peraps it would receive myriad signals, extraterrestrial information! A parking lot could become an interplanetary antenna. Let us name it the Alewife Interplanetary Antenna, which receives data from the environment and the planetary radiation phenomena transmitted through electromagnetic waves! This use is ironic for a parking lot, one of the most useless of spaces we have ever come up with. Figure 1 shows the footprint/layout of the building and it surrounds.

The Alewife parking lot’s helicoidal structure has four turns in an angle between 12 and 14 degrees, 500 ft of length overall, plus an 80-ft-wide interior diameter; this interior diameter is open to the sky and has a beautiful set of trees inside. It is also populated by garbage, shopping carts, syringes and occasional clothes that are dropped off by overnight visitors. In theory, by reverse-engineering one of the half abandoned helixes, we would receive ELF or Extremely Low Frequencies in the range of 8Mhz. An ELF has waves so big we could potentially be hearing Schuman Resonance coming from lightning; short-term earthquake prediction; and, correlated with tropical air temperatures, the monitoring of global warming.

The antenna then becomes a game between a performative utterance exercise of naming a building an antenna and a precise understanding of what the structure is capable of doing. With the help of ten collaborators, Alewife Station’s parking lot was, in fact, converted into an antenna that received ELF waveforms for approximately 2 hours on May 25, 2021. 

By holding a 500-ft, gauge eight bare copper wire around the helicoidal structure, we generated the necessary form to connect our helicoidal antenna shape to the electronics box and a grounding rod placed in the middle of the helix. With speakers connected through a switch and everyone positioned in their places, we could finally listen to electromagnetic waves collectively. 

The Alewife Interplanetary Antenna was possible thanks to: Christopher Miller, Nancy Valladares, Tobias Putrih, Aarti Sunder, Maharshi Bhattacharya, Alberto Meouchi, Chi PoHao, Niklas Hagemann, Zach Fredin, and Aaron Jaeger.
Project supported by MIT´s PILOT grant and the Art, Culture and Technology program at MIT.