Numbers Stations are the embodiment of spy culture in electromagnetic space. Unlike the secrecy, encryption, and other elements of espionage the numbers stations broadcast in the open, on shortwave frequencies. What the messages mean, why they broadcast what they do and what is encoded within those broadcast is a mystery and one almost impossible to crack.
No one owns up to running the broadcasts and of course where they are meant for impossible to know, they are just thrown out into the electromagnetic spectrum to be plucked out of the air by whoever has a shortwave receiver.
The project will develop a shortwave broadcast ‘station’ as an object, that is sculptural and opaque as to its definite origins. The station will ‘broadcast’ works from selected contributors in the same / similar wavelengths as many of the more famous numbers stations.
The station will be installed in various parts of the UK and photographed in-situ.
* Numbers Stations
* The Conet Project
* The Conet Project – Internet Archive
Working on Palindrone has opened up a whole new area of research and experimentation in playing with and listening to sound. I have been reading ‘The The Field – The Art of Field Recording‘ by Cathy Lane & Angus Carlyle as it is working with these found, recorded sounds (from the field) that currently interests me.
To work alongside Palindrone I am thinking about sound and landscape, especially the English Pastoral landscape and the sounds of light aircraft, the thrum of the distant yet always near motorways in the UK. When developing Palindrone I was thinking about the sound of light aircraft flying over head whilst on a pleasant walk in the English countryside, as well as harking back to the now Military-Pastoral sound of the Spitfire or Hurricane flying overhead in the south of England. Almost romantic notions of sound, technology and landscape.
There is another sound that pervades these landscapes though, we won’t hear it as we walk through the grass, but the sounds in the electromagnetic spectrum are saturated with noise of the modern and this is also the space for much of the modern Military Industrial Complex, with its Signal Intelligence.
Electrical currents generate magnetic fields, which have sonic properties. You can pick these up with a ‘telephone pickup coil‘. This will pick up all sorts of sounds.
This is the sound of my laptop:
As an experiment I am going to make some recordings of urban, suburban and rural landscapes using this basic set up, just to hear what is there.
imagining preferable futures