grid switch chronology
1978Proposal for computer animation of the architectural lighting of the World Trade Center to create time-dependent patterns on the sides of the towers.
1978-1985 Formed Retina, Inc. (later Architel Systems, Inc.) with Scott Simeral as an "art business" (with conceptual underpinnings) to develop these ideas for computer lighting control and interactive environments. Provided computer lighting controls with unprecedented flexibility for museum, residential, and commercial installations.
1983Brooklyn Bridge Centennial Celebration - Computer lighting system animated all bridge lighting as part of the Centennial Sound and Light Show, with Architel Systems, Inc.
2002-2004Become interested in the possibilities of animating the lighting of entire cities as the result of several dramatic night flights over Southwestern cities, particularly Phoenix and Albuquerque.
5/04Name the series and decide to implement together with the other Large Scale Works
7/7/04Contact PNM (Power New Mexico) power utility for Albuquerque, to attempt to obtain maps of the distribution grid to use as a guideline for the animation studies. Run into some initial resistance from public relations people who have been alerted by Homeland Security to the possibility of such inquiries by terrorists. Eventually get very helpful cooperation from Dr. Abraham Ellis, Senior Planning Engineer, who provides me with a map of substation locations, but without the service boundaries drawn. He explains that the substation locations are available to anyone to see, but the exact service areas are considered sensitive information, as with it the substation which feeds particular facilities, such as hospitals or govenment labs, could be idnetified and disrupted. Therefore we discuss simply using a computer-derived segmentation scheme, such as distance minimization, to develop a hypothetical grid service map. He confirms that the technical basis of the work, the existence of remote control switching of the grid at the substation level, is indeed possible.

Dr. Ellis has much experience in supplying power to developing countries in Central America and we discuss rolling blackouts as a context for these pieces. He also graciously provides me with copies of maps of the electrical grid in the continental US, which we review. Much to my surprise, I discover that the state of Texas is not part of the national power grid. It is connected with unique one-way connections so that it can supply power to the grid but is not interconnected and would not be brought down by a national grid failure. Interesting.

7/12-14/04On trip to Dallas contact TXU Energy, the power supplier for the city, to attempt to get power grid distribution information similar to that obtained for Albuquerque. Basically hit a brick wall. Under the guise of security, the only information they will release is the approximate number of substations. I make another attempt, pointing out that substation locations could readily be determined by simple inspection; driving around or looking at readily available aerial photographs, but am unsuccessful. In perusing the TXU website, discover that it is the largest unregulated utility in the US. Texas is unmistakeably an energy state.

On this trip attempt to get skyline photos of Dallas to use both for the Reentry Pieces and Grid Switch. Run into the problem of there being no overlooks if the city other than downtown skyscrapers. Realize that these will work fine for Reentry, but decide Grid Switch really needs to have the city shot from directly above. Further motivation to develop an aircraft camera mount, probably a belly mount like another Mooney I had seen which was used for pipeline patrol. This series now has much more in common technically with the Monument Series than Reentry.

7/19/04Shoot night stills of Albuquerque from Sandia Peak, hoping to use them for both Reentry and Grid Switch. Confirms my earlier suspicions that Grid Switch would be best served by high altitude imagery from directly overhead.
8/04Work on design of aircraft belly camera port for personal aircraft. Become aware of upcominging release of Sony HDV camcorder. Decide to wait for availability to complete camera port.
9/04In casual discussions with a visiting acquaintance from the auto racing world who is also responsible for managing a large coal-fired power plant in North Western Colorado, he divulges that rolling blackouts are a virtual certainly in the US in the not too distant future.
10/04Discover that Sony will be releasing proffessional HDV camcorder with improved performance in February 2005. Decide to get on waiting list and delay camera port installation till then to insure campatitility. Unable to get advance drawing from Sony.
2/21/05Get delivery of Sony HVR-Z1U HDV camcorder.
2/21/05ACM (association for Computing Machiner) Tech News for this week highlights a recent article in the Washington Post, "Hackers Target U.S. Power Grid" regarding ongoing attacks by hackers on electrical utilities and a warning to utilities by the Cairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to focus more heavily on cyber security.
8/16/05 c/net ran a story today about federally mandated standards for electrical utility cybersecurity in the new energy bill just passed by congress "New law may tighten power plant security". Some tidbits from the story:

"The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, would be tasked with setting standards to prevent system instability or failures that can be tied to a 'sudden disturbance, including a cybersecurity incident.'"

"A visit from the Slammer worm, for instance, may have been in part to blame for failures at a nuclear power plant in 2003"

"One of the reasons why the control systems are so vulnerable is that they're increasingly being connected to private networks that use the Internet, so that they can be managed remotely, the GAO report said."

"As companies connect these systems to the Net to allow remote access or drive efficiency, they're opening themselves up to risk,"

"Right now, no mandatory cybersecurity standards exist for power grid operators"

If an electrical utility connected the control system for one or more substations to a public network in the interests of cost saving through remote control, it is entirely conceivable that a hacker could infiltrate the system and issue switching commands to the grid. Knowing that hacker style is more involved in tagging than destruction, perhaps they might do something resembling a Grid Switch piece.