“Life: A User’s Manual:
Test Walk #1 (Berlin)
Test Walk #18 (Amsterdam)”

Public space intervention and video installation, 2003-2006

michelle Teran


To understand the extent to which the multitude of transmissions circulating through the airwaves permeate cities and blur the boundaries between the private and the public, the best thing to do is go out on the street and intercept them. This is what Canadian artist Michelle Teran has been doing since 2003 with her series of interventions "Life: A User’s Manual”. Armed with a frequency scanner, Teran intercepts signals from wireless video cameras around the area she is walking in, and displays their images on a portable monitor on the street. From the analogue fog there arise ghostly non-places like hotel lobbies, banks and automatic tellers, but also spaces as private as a baby’s nursery. These walks become a real-time map of what is happening in the narrow unregulated range of the spectrum, where a series of devices operate (wireless webcams, bluetooth security cameras or mobile telephones), turning consumers into “micro-broadcasters”. For Michelle Teran, to place a camera somewhere is usually a way of protecting what it displays, and strengthening its borders. “Life: A User’s Manual” shows that the borders of physical reality do not match those of Hertzian space.