Collegium Helveticum

Structural Media

led by Tim Shaw and Dirty Electronics

 High voltage experiments are some of the earliest attempts to control and understand electricity. In this workshop we will explore the media archeology of the electronic spark, building a simple and safe high voltage circuit for electric experimentation. Participants will build a DIY spark gap using a pulse arc generator, electrodes and a battery. The spark gap produces an intense ‘snapping’ sound and bright light that can be further explored by adding a resonator or augmenting in different ways. These spark devices will also generate energy, radio waves, and create a large electromagnetic field (EMF).

The workshop will conclude with a group sharing where we build an entangled electromagnetic environment.


Structural Media is an approach to art making which promotes a heightened perception of the inner mechanisms of our shared communication technologies. An attempt to open up the black boxes of technology.  By highlighting, and artistically responding to, the often-imperceptible aspects of our shared physical infrastructures, Structural Media attempts to playfully expose the way our communication technologies are built, and allowing failures, faults and glitches to enhance our aesthetic experience of machines. 

For this seminar we invite artists, academics and media scholars to explore themes connected to Structural Media, sharing projects and practices which critically reflect upon this way of working.

Seminar program


Opening and welcome remarks

Tim Shaw


Structural Media: Artistic Approaches to Working with Technology

Tim Shaw 


Attending to Sound: Performance and Non-performance with Interactive Systems

Dirty Electronics


Coffee break


Strange Machines. Explorations of the Materiality of Scientific Media

Hannes Rickli


On the Meaning of Scale in Upscaling Techniques: Failure and Liveness in Generative Content Enhancements

Maria Erikson


Q & A


Concluding remarks, question, and discussion

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