NASA produced a beautiful piece of animation in the 1970s to illustrate the paths of the Voyager spacecraft. Always referred to as "twins," the probes were launched in late 1977 and followed roughly the same trajectory, passing Jupiter in 1979 and then reaching Saturn in late 1980, at which point Voyager 1 headed out of the solar system, while Voyager 2 continued to Uranus, Neptune and beyond. The point in the animation where the two vehicles’ paths diverge always strikes me as sad; each heads out on its own into interstellar space. They were a pair of travelers, together for a time, and then separated "twins" moving alone into the void, transmitting signals back to Earth that get fainter as they move further from home. It will take 40,000 years for Voyager 1 to get close to another star. Should the machine be plucked out of the vastness of space, what would an alien intelligence make of this stray bit of information?
We are surrounded by similar strays -- an image here, a piece of text there -- floating, disconnected from their points of origin, more and more circulate in our increasingly crowded digital universe. Peering into the global campfire of the Internet, you can pick out random fragments from scattered locations and eras, all times in one time, isolate a stray piece -- a solitary flame -- and wonder at its meaning and purpose.
A bunch of numbers -- mostly ones -- on a computer printout, a lone six circled in black and then a series of other numbers circled in red with "Wow!" written to their left. Known as the "Wow! Signal," this printout comes from SETI (the Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence) and illustrates a strong narrowband radio signal, detected in 1977, which may have originated outside our solar system. It lasted for 72 seconds, but hasn't been detected since. An image of crumpled bits of paper found beneath the floorboards at Auschwitz, containing the names of people who lived and most likely died at the infamous concentration camp during World War II. This code simply states to whomever may find it that "we were here." Its image haunts the Internet and circulates with similar images, texts and codes. Ghosts of other times, other existences, and other ways of seeing that are somehow still able to deliver their intended messages long after those sending and those meant to receive them have departed.
Can information be lonely? When it has been replaced, discarded and disconnected from its original function, communicating to no one, yet still present, still attempting to convey whatever it was designed to share, is it forlorn? Can anything be considered lonely in a world over-crowded with information? What if you decide to bring it back to life, revive a lost code and begin re-transmitting it to a new group of people?
The projects contained within this website capture a number of these rogue bits of information, collecting them into an un-ordered almost-poem about transmission -- or the desire to transmit. Behind each image is a ghost story willing itself to be told. An image of simple dots and dashes, a few black lines and circles, replays the last distress call in Morse code from the sinking Titanic. It comes back to life like a tape loop, as though this pattern has been repeating for over a century. Behind this code you can hear the high pitched sound of the insistent signal and imagine the two thousand people scrambling for life across the surface of the ship’s 52,000 ton hulk, which now lies rusting in the dark at the bottom of the ocean.
Each one of the fragments represents a lost whole waiting to be reborn, an urge to communicate, a desire to tell. Can an image insist? Perhaps it is their loneliness that, by inspiring empathy, motivates the search for the stories behind them. They drift in virtual space continuously repeating, waiting but not necessarily needing to be heard.