Invisible Residue

by Peter Blamey

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Beginning in 2014, Invisible Residue is an ongoing series of performance works aimed at reshaping our everyday experiences of infrared energy. Each work uses remote control handsets for common devices (such as TVs, video projectors, VCRs and so on) recasting them not as controllers but as producers and projectors of pulsing, digitally encoded infrared.

Invisible Residue considers the curious status of remote controls as being a kind of technological residue, often still in our possession long after the device they came with has gone. However, these somewhat ubiquitous handsets have become increasingly redundant as a range of other wireless technologies enter the market. The infrared energy these units produce is itself a kind of residue, in that it’s the unseen, unheard and largely unacknowledged part of the process of sending instructions (turn on, increase volume, etc.) to the devices they once controlled. Throughout these works remote controls are aligned with a very different area where infrared energy is investigated – deep space astronomy – reimagining how and what these leftover domestic devices might still be capable of.

On “Invisible Residue,” three 12 volt photovoltaic (solar) panels were connected direct to an audio recorder to record the invisible flashes of infrared energy that remote controls use to transmit their digital pulse codes. The codes projected by multiple units combine and interact, filling the air with a kind of invisible turbulence. No effects or signal processing were used (or even required); the sounds are simply the result of fluctuations in the current produced in the photovoltaic panels as they transduce pulses of infrared energy into electricity.

For “The Near Deep,” a transistor radio registers the pulse codes of individual remote controls in amongst the static found ‘off station’ on the AM band. “Some Remote Constellation” returns to the same recording process as track 1, except this time two solar panels were used to record a cluster of four remotes set to run continuously for the duration.

Each track uses handsets that were either found dumped in the streets and laneways of Sydney's inner west, or were donated by friends. Thanks to all those who contributed, especially Jon Hunter and Daniel Green.


released May 8, 2020

Recorded in Sydney, March–May 2015.

Cover image: infrared energy from a remote control made visible.


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Peter Blamey Sydney, Australia

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